It’s guns, people. That’s it. #GunControlNow
No ties to ISIS. No history of mental illness. No criminal record. No political ideology. No hunting, shooting hobbies, or claims of “trying to protect his family.”
In the coming days, investigators might discover something related to a “motive” for Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old white retiree who killed 58 people and injured more than 500 when he opened fire on a huge crowd at an outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort Hotel and Casino before taking his own life.
He checked into his hotel suite with what authorities now say were 23 weapons, many of them rifles (what, were they packed in suitcases?) and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. At least one gun, the one he started shooting with, was an automatic weapon, which have been illegal to buy since 1986. He had an arsenal of weapons at home.
The state of Nevada has among the most permissive gun laws in the nation. According to a story in USA Today:
Gun owners in Nevada don’t need a permit to buy or possess a rifle, shotgun or handgun, according to the National Rifle Association. They can carry a firearm openly in public. Nevadans can even purchase machine guns or silencers, banned in other states, as long as they’re legally registered and within federal compliance. The state does not prohibit possession of assault weapons, 50-caliber rifles or large-capacity ammunition magazines, according to the NRA.
Paddock’s arsenal and the harrowing sound of rapid-fire bursts of gunfire caught on video as he rained bullets down on the crowd renewed a national debate on Americans’ relationship with guns and whether any tragedy will prove shocking enough to change it.
Of course, it doesn’t matter which state the shooter was in, because so many states have lax gun laws. Concealed carry is now legal in all 50 states. Lots of states have open-carry laws, which is disconcerting when you’re on vacation in another state and you see a man carrying a baby balanced on a hip that also holsters a huge handgun.
The Las Vegas shooting was the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history. Aren’t we tired of that superlative — “deadliest” — which just seems to be used with increasing frequency?
A mass shooting is defined as an incident in which at least four people are shot. So far in 2017, there have been 273 mass shootings. And there have only been 275 days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 30 people die every day from gunshot wounds.
A health professional on NPR was asked about the shooter’s likely mental health. He gave a measured but exasperated answer: “I don’t think you can say that anyone who shoots so many people is mentally stable.”
You know what? I don’t care about the shooter’s mental stability. I don’t care about his political affiliation, who he backed for president, or whether he was a member of the Islamic State or a neo-Nazi group.
What I do care about is the fact that he had so many weapons of mass destruction and he used them to kill and maim so many people.
Political reaction is going down the predictable road of Democrats calling for action while Republicans say it’s “not the time” to bring up the issue of gun safety laws.
Chris Murphy is a Democratic senator from Connecticut. When he was still a congressman, his district encompassed Newtown, where a gunman killed 20 1st and 2nd graders and six faculty and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. He has led the fight for common-sense gun laws ever since. According to a separate story in USA Today:
“It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic,” Murphy said in a statement.
“There are, and the thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference. It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something,” he said.
Why even bother to quote the Republican response? In early 2013, a bipartisan effort to pass some limited gun-safety measures after Sandy Hook seemed to have broad backing but ultimately died in the Senate in the face of GOP opposition. Yet this is something that Americans agree on: According to data from the Pew Research Center, a majority of Democrats and Republicans support preventing the mentally ill from purchasing guns, barring gun purchases from people on no-fly terror watch lists, and expanding background checks for private sales and at gun shows. A majority even support bringing back the assault weapons ban.
Except for an assault weapons ban, none of those laws would have stopped Stephen Paddock from amassing his deadly collection. And don’t expect help from the Trump administration. As an NPR story reported, “As one of his first actions in office, President Trump overturned an Obama-era regulation that had not yet gone into effect that was aimed at limiting gun access from certain people adjudicated mentally ill.”
Asked at Monday’s press briefing if Trump was considering whether to pursue any changes to gun regulations, press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “There’s a time and place for a political debate, but now is the time to unite as a country.” She added that the investigation was ongoing, “and it would be premature for us to discuss policy when we don’t fully know all the facts or what took place last night.”
It comes down to one thing: the guns. So sorry, Ms. Sanders, but it is the time. And the place.
America is a country of about 323 million people. Those same American citizens own 300 million guns. Assault weapons that they don’t need for hunting. Huge caches of weapons that they don’t need to protect their families.
The most tragic part of this shooting is the huge number of victims. Yet just as distressing is what happens after every mass shooting: People buy more guns. Stock prices in gun companies shot up between 1.4 and 3.7 percent the day after the shooting. According to a story from Fast Company:
So why do gun stocks jump after a shooting? Fear. However, it is not fear of guns, but fear of gun control. The theory goes that in the wake of a mass shooting, gun lovers worry that Congress will actually do something and enact some form of gun control. Customers rush to the store to buy more guns before someone tries to take them away. (Bloomberg did a pretty solid analysis of this pattern after the Pulse shooting.) Gun sales rose during President Obama’s years in office out of fears that a Democrat in the Oval Office would put gun control in place. That, of course, never materialized.
Since President Trump was elected, after being endorsed by the NRA, share prices in gun manufacturers dropped, because consumers no longer feared gun control legislation. According to CNN, Sturm Ruger reported in August that its latest quarterly revenues were down 22% from a year ago and that earnings had dropped more than 50%. Now the shooting in Las Vegas has reversed that trend.
So fear not, Wayne LaPierre. Your position and exorbitant compensation (a reported $5.1 million a year, including his $1 million salary) as executive vice president of the National Rifle Association are safe.
I wonder how you can sleep at night, knowing that those dollars are seeped in blood.