There is no question about the magnitude of the Las Vegas tragedy, but there are as of yet no answers to questions about the assailant's motives.
"Evils which are not cured in one way will cure themselves in some other." —Thomas Jefferson (1791)
Las Vegas is Spanish for "the meadows," named by explorers in the early part of the 19th century.
Today, it is known best as "Sin City," and Monday, our nation awoke to the horrors of unprecedented evil there — mass murder at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip, technically in neighboring Paradise, Nevada.
During the closing performance at the crowded outdoor venue, 64-year-old Stephen Craig Paddock, who had spent several days preparing for his assault from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel across Las Vegas Boulevard, began firing on the crowd. Before Las Vegas police could access his location, he managed to murder 58 men and women and injure 527 others among the crowd of 22,000. He then killed himself.
It is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, surpassing the Orlando night club massacre last June, in which 49 people were murdered by a Jihadi terrorist.
Thank God that such mass assaults are rare, because the human cost — especially the mass trauma that reaches far beyond the horrific body count — is incalculable. Thank God, also, that country music fans and first responders disregarded their own safety on Sunday night in order to provide cover and life-saving aid for others.
But the gross mass media coverage that followed this attack — commercial advertisements punctuated by endless talkinghead speculation about weapons and motives — denigrated that human cost. And then there were the questions: A full 24 hours after the assault, a national reporter asked the Las Vegas fire chief, "What kind of injuries did first responders see?" Gunshot wounds, perhaps?
Worse, The New York Times and other Leftmedia outlets, in addition to their wildly inaccurate statisticsabout mass murders, are still counting the assailant among the dead, listing 59 instead of 58.
Over the years, I have written at length in defense of the First Civil Right, which is the right to self-defense. That right is enumerated in our Second Amendment, which Justice Joseph Story famously observed "has justly been considered as the palladium of the Liberties of a Republic."
I have also rebutted obscene and unconscionable efforts by Democrat Party principals, who never miss an opportunity to undermine the Second Amendment and the God-given Liberty of a free people. They do so by grandstanding on the blood of innocents in order to subordinate Rule of Law to the rule of men. They endeavor to turn tragedy into political triumph, even before the blood has dried — mostly after mass murders in so-called "gun-free zones."
Of course, they are following the political modus operandi advocated by Barack Obama and his former political chief Rahm Emanuel: "You don't ever want a good crisis to go to waste; it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." Ironically, or not, Emanuel is mayor of Obama's hometown, Chicago, a prime example of a Democrat urban poverty plantation where the cult of death in that "gun free zone" resulted in 762 murders last year.
The Las Vegas attack will change forever our nation's security protocols for outdoor venues surrounded by high ground. But the precedent for such an attack was five decades ago, when a deranged architectural engineering student murdered his mother and his wife, then killed three more people on his way up to the 28th floor observation deck of the University of Texas tower, where, using his bolt action hunting rifle, he murdered 11 more people and wounded 31 before police were able to access his position and kill him.
There is no question about the magnitude of the Las Vegas tragedy, but there are as of yet no answers to questions about the assailant's motives. Most of us have a natural instinct and a desire to understand the motivation behind such evil, hoping that this knowledge will somehow provide a measure of understanding to help us and others avoid such carnage in the future.
What follows are a few notable quotes, some yet-to-be-answered questions, and some observations on firearms.
The Republican response...
In his prepared remarks about the assault, President Donald Trump noted, "I want to thank the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and all of the first responders for their courageous efforts. ... The speed with which they acted is miraculous, and prevented further loss of life. ... To the families of the victims: We are praying for you and we are here for you, and we ask God to help see you through this very dark period. Scripture teaches us, 'The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.' We seek comfort in those words, for we know that God lives in the hearts of those who grieve."
He concluded, "In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one — and it always has. We call upon the bonds that unite us — our faith, our family, and our shared values. We call upon the bonds of citizenship, the ties of community, and the comfort of our common humanity. ... May God bless the souls of the lives that are lost. May God give us the grace of healing. And may God provide the grieving families with strength to carry on."
Rep. Steve Scalise, who just returned to Congress last week after recovering from an assailant's attempt to murder him and two dozen other Republican House members, said, "I agree with the president that this was an act of pure evil. I pray for the victims of this murderous attack, and our whole nation grieves with their loved ones. We also thank the first responders and fellow citizens who did all they could to help those in harm's way. In this tragic moment, I encourage people across America to stand together in solidarity, and to support the Las Vegas community and all of those affected, especially by giving blood and encouraging others to do the same. In the face of unspeakable evil, our whole nation must respond with countless acts of kindness, warmth and generosity."
The predictable Democrat response...
Hillary Clinton, who, sadly but predictably, couldn't put politics aside: "We can and must put politics aside. ... The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get. Our grief isn't enough. ... This is nothing but pure, unadulterated greed motivated by people who want to sell as many guns as they can, to engage in a falsity of fear and rhetoric about why everybody has to have guns. And the evidence is just so clear that more guns do not make you safer. ... Assault weapons should be off the streets, as they were for 10 years because of the legislation passed in '93 to '94." (Actually, everyone would've been much safer if the guest in the room next door to the assailant had had a gun. And so-called "assault weapons" were never off any street because of "legislation passed in '93 to '94." For the record, the number of people killed with "assault weapons" is a tiny fraction of all murders.)
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): "The epidemic of gun violence in our country continues to challenge the conscience of our nation. ... Congress has a moral duty to address this horrific and heartbreaking epidemic. Charged with the solemn duty to protect and defend the American people, we must respond to these tragedies with courage, unity and decisive action." (Pelosi, who has been the nation's leading advocate for violence against the most innocent among us — unborn children — insists that she knows "the conscience of our nation" and is the arbiter of "moral duty"? For the record, Nancy, you are "charged with the solemn duty to to protect and defend" our Constitution, not your political agenda.)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): "Thoughts and prayers are NOT enough. ... We need to have the conversation about how to stop gun violence. We need it NOW." (Actually, the "conversation" we need to have is about the ruinous Democrat policies that have spawned a culture of violence, not "gun violence.")
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD): "It is incomprehensible that the president or others would say, 'This is not the time to debate [gun control].' Is there ever a time to debate this, or are we so cowed by the [NRA] that we can't even talk about this issue and figure out how we can make America safer?" (If Hoyer wanted to "make America safer," the debate would, again, be about Democrat policies that have spawned a culture of violence. To this point, here's a reality check on so-called "gun control.")
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT): "The thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference." (Thoughts and prayers ... are especially "hollow" if they're nothing more than a phony front for political assaults on our Constitution.)
And summing up the sentiments of Demo/MSM propagandists was this social media post from a senior CBS lawyer named Hayley Geftman-Gold: "I'm actually not even sympathetic [because] country music fans often are Republican gun toters." (I've heard a lot of sickening remarks over the years, but it doesn't get any worse than this.)
Regarding the Las Vegas assailant — unanswered questions...
Stephen Paddock, the son of a sociopathic criminal once on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list, does not fit the profile of an Islamic assailant, though his MO certainly does. Of course, in the 60 hours since the attack, the FBI hasn't discovered any motive, including anything that connects him with the Islamic State, or ISIL, which claimed a connection.
In most instances of a mass assault, within 48 hours there is a clear emerging profile about an assailant's narrative and motive, but not in this case. And there is no digital footprint yet, even though he filmed himself during the assault. But there is no such thing as a "lone wolf" Jihadi attacker. So, what was the motive?
What did Paddock's partner, Marilou Danley, a Philippine native with Islamic ties, know about the assault, and why did Paddock wire her $100,000 to the Philippines last week? She is now "a person of interest," according to Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, and has returned to the U.S. where she has been detained by the FBI.
For several years, the Department of Homeland Security has promoted the "if you see something, say something" campaign. Investigators will likely determine there were things to see in this case, but nobody said anything — or nobody listened. Nobody noticed that Paddock was hauling weapons and ammunition into the hotel, which he then stored in his hotel room?
Paddock chose to shoot at the crowd from 400 meters away — but would their death toll have been much greater if an assailant had driven a semi-truck into the street-level venue at high speed, as is increasingly the case in other attacks around the world?
Why did Paddock set up two shooting tripods at two adjacent broken windows when neither gave him any firing advantage point? And why so many weapons when only one or two were required for this assault?
Should there have been something in Paddock's background checks to prevent him from legally acquiring firearms?
For context, mortality in America by the numbers...
We can all agree that one murder in America is too many, and there is an epidemic of violence across our nation. To put that into perspective, here is some of the latest U.S. annual mortality data:
- 88,000 people died from alcohol-related causes.
- 64,000 people died from drug overdoses.
- 44,000 people died by suicide, many related to drug and alcohol abuse.
- 40,000 people died in motor vehicles crashes, about a third related to drug and alcohol abuse.
Regarding murders, the latest FBI uniform crime report notes there were an estimated 17,250 people murdered in the U.S. in 2016. In 70% of those cases, the assailant used a firearm. It is estimated that in less than 0.5% (one-half of 1%) of those murders, an "assault weapon" was used.
Self-defense and survival rates...
According to the most recent self-defense surveys, firearms are used for protection against an assailant some one million to 2.5 million times annually. It is fair to infer that the number of lives saved by the capacity to defend yourself with a firearm far outnumbers the murder rates...
Murder rates in "gun free" American cities...
What we can also deduce from the most recent FBI murder stats is that the 10 most dangerous cities in America with populations above 200,000 are all managed, top to bottom, by Democrats. Notably, those cities also have the most restrictive gun control policies in the nation.
Murder rates in "gun free" nations...
In Europe, where firearms are tightly regulated, there has been more bloodshed in mass attacks than in the U.S.
Over the eight years of the Obama administration, while the U.S. had 29 mass assaults (defined by the FBI as four or more fatalities in a public place), there were 26 in Europe — fewer attacks, but more deaths. In fact, France had more mass murder casualties with firearms in 2015 alone than the U.S. total for the Obama years.
For the record, if you are not a gang member or drug dealer/user, your chances of becoming a murder victim are on par with European Union nations. Oh, and in Switzerland, which has a higher concentration of "assault weapons" per capita than any nation in the world, the murder rate is one of the lowest in the world.
Regarding murder rates in Australia, where most firearms were confiscated in 1996, according to the latest firearms causation study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, while there was a "decline in firearm deaths between 1997 and 2013," there was "a decline in total nonfirearm suicide and homicide deaths of a greater magnitude," thus "it is not possible to determine whether the change in firearm deaths can be attributed to the gun law reforms."
More guns, fewer murders...
According to Pew Research crime data, the rate of violent crime dropped almost 50% in the decade up to 2015. At the same time, the rate of firearm sales and ownership has steadily increased.
Thus, as research by former Yale professor John Lott concludes, "More Guns, Less Crime."
Notably, however, according to the latest FBI crime stats, violent crime in 2015 and 2016 is trending upward, due in large measure to the "Ferguson Effect." Police in urban areas with high crime are backing off enforcement because, after the justified shooting of a Ferguson, Missouri thug, national and local politicians joined Barack Obama's war on cops, condemning them for "racial profiling."
The bloody assault in Las Vegas, and all those that proceeded it, were not a "gun problem," or problems with knives, vehicles, planes or bombs. These are all problems of evil. Let's call these assailants what they are, and maybe we can begin to address the root causes of the bloody attacks as a necessary part of the dialogue on how to prevent them.