I n the 12 months leading up to his shooting spree in Las Vegas, Stephen Paddock bought 33 rifles, legally obtained, without federal notification.

It’s those kinds of loopholes in the law that have Americans debating whether such easy access to high-powered weapons was really the intent of Constitutional framers when they wrote the Second Amendment.

At a gun store in a Las Vegas shopping center days after the shooting, the answer is clear for owner Mark Hames.

“My personal opinion is that there is no need for restrictions. I am a true believer in the Second Amendment,” said Hames, who called his store, appropriately enough, the Second Amendment. “I believe that it’s there to protect me from the malicious government. If the government can have something, I can have something. The intent is to protect your own. Why should the government tell me how much? I don’t think so.”

There are many different ways to boil the statistics, but a recent New York Times piece put gun violence in the United States in stark relief. In 2014, more than 8,000 people were killed in gunshot homicides. The United States has far more gun deaths than other advanced countries. In America of 2017, death from gunfire is about as likely as dying in a car crash. Comparatively, someone in China is as likely to die from gunfire as to die in a plane crash in the US. One is as likely to be shot and killed in Israel than to die in a building fire in America.

Gun control advocates look at those statistics and demand that an 18th-century imperative be updated to address our modern reality. How can it be, they ask, that someone on an FBI watch list is barred from boarding an airplane but can legally obtain a firearm?

Supporters of the Second Amendment, on the other hand, fear an intrusive government that wants to take away their weapons. They claim that owning a weapon is about as American as apple pie. A gun, they say, is like any other tool. Just as a hammer can kill, so can a firearm. Therefore, there’s no point in regulating gun purchases or punishing law-abiding citizens who use firearms to protect their families.

In an interview inside his store less than 48 hours after a massacre that took the lives of 58 people and wounded more than 500, Hames says there is no doubt in his mind that gun ownership is a fundamental American right.

We are here after the deadliest mass shooting in American history. What is your answer to those who say that more regulations will lead to more lives saved?

“You can’t regulate a bad thought. [Stephen Paddock] had a bad intention. Something snapped in the man’s mind. We don’t have thought police (yet), so there’s no way to tell what’s going on in somebody’s mind.”

The guy had 20 rifles inside his hotel room. Don’t you believe that something needs to be changed?

“My true gut feeling is no. Something must’ve snapped in his mind.”

But if there was some regulation on the amount of ammunition a person could buy, let’s say ten rounds of ammo, maybe Paddock would have done less damage?

“If I want to get that ammunition, I can get it at the black market anywhere.”

But if thousands of people are getting shot each year something in the system doesn’t work?

“How many people die from car accidents each year? We don’t restrict cars. We don’t restrict trucks from running over people. The gun is the big boogeyman of the era, but there are other things that create just as much damage.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 681)