My day was already pretty full when I woke to the news of the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, NV last night. Even so, I do not like giving people my “hot take” on events such as these because early reports are often inaccurate, we simply don’t know all of the facts, and speculation is simply foolish.
Here are my five observations about the Las Vegas Shooting.
1. We should focus on the facts.
- The latest update from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department says 58 people have died, and 515 are injured (I believe this number represents people wounded in addition to people injured in the melee that followed).
- The gunman, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, NV, fired at the 22,000 in attendance at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival from a hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Sunday evening at 10:08 pm (PDT). He killed himself before the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s SWAT team breached the hotel door.
- The shooting started while Jason Aldean was performing, Aldean was the last act to go last night.
- Among the dead is one Las Vegas off-duty police officer. Two on-duty police officers were among the injured.
- Police found 20 firearms that included ten rifles and
at least one automatic weapon(Update: He had two bump stock devices that allowed the shooter to modify semi-automatic weapons so he could fire rounds faster. Note: What the media is saying about bump stocks is incorrect. They do NOT turn a semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic one. You can still only fire one round per trigger pull, but you are still able to fire more rounds per minute than you could without the modification). This morning, I thought that an automatic weapon (or at least a modified semi-automatic) was used based on what I heard watching posted video and the number of casualties.
- Paddock rented the hotel room he was found in days before.
- Paddock’s brother said the family did not see anything like this coming. CBS News also quoted his brother who said Paddock was “not an avid gun guy at all…where the hell did he get automatic weapons? He has no military background.”
- Both the hotel and the concert were gun free zones.
- The shooter’s father was an armed robber on the FBI’s Most Wanted List in 1969.
- ISIS has claimed responsibility, but the Las Vegas field office of the FBI said they have determined that there is no connection to an international terror group.
Not only should we folks on the facts, but we should praise those who acted heroically. We should also remember the victims as well.
2. Don’t politicize this tragedy.
There were people still in surgery when some on the left took to Twitter.
One of the primary talking points is that we need more than “thoughts and prayers” to stop gun violence. Igor Volsky, the deputy director of Center for American Progress Action and director of Guns Down America, has been particularly obnoxious on Twitter.
I welcome #thoughtsandprayers of our elected officials, but they can't just think and pray. The *must* work to reduce gun violence in U.S.
— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) October 2, 2017
All day today he has been targeting different elected officials who said they would pray sharing the amount of money their campaigns have received from the National Rifle Association (which he calls “blood money”).
He also highlighted an upcoming vote in the House.
House GOP could pass legislation this week to:
1. repeal restrictions on gun silencers
2. allow concealed carry across state lines
— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) October 2, 2017
First, there is not any evidence that a suppressor was used in the Las Vegas shooting. Second, the shooter was local so being able to conceal carry across state lines would not matter.
Volsky said the reason for silencers (suppressors) are bad because the source of the shooting would be harder to detect.
Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tweeted something even more asinine.
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.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 2, 2017
Folks, this is how a suppressor for a Walther P22 sounds. This handgun shoots .22 rimfire ammunition so, by comparison, to one of the long guns fired during the shooting in Las Vegas it is pretty quiet. A suppressor does not “silence” this weapon.
There’s certainly a difference in sound, but you would still hear the gunshots (and see their effect).
This video shows how a fully automatic weapon with a suppressor sounds.
Clinton also “putting politics aside” attacked the NRA.
Our grief isn't enough. We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 2, 2017
Liberal actor Boris Kodjoe just lied to his 10-year-old son about gun laws in the United States.
My 10 year old asked me how the shooter was able to get his machine gun. I told him that pretty much anyone in the US can. 'But why daddy'?
— Boris Kodjoe (@BorisKodjoe) October 2, 2017
Sean Davis had a comprehensive write-up at The Federalist about what federal law says about automatic weapons, so rather than reinventing the wheel here’s an excerpt:
Under the NFA, it is illegal for any private civilian to own any fully automatic weapons manufactured after May 19, 1986. Only certain types of FFL/SOTs may make them, and then only for purchase by qualified state and federal agencies. There are no exceptions. According to the ATF’s official handbook on NFA laws and regulations, it’s not even legal to make new replacement parts for pre-1986 machine guns: “There is no exception allowing for the lawful production, transfer, possession, or use of a post-May 18, 1986 machinegun receiver as a replacement receiver on a weapon produced prior to May 19, 1986.”
So what about pre-1986 machine guns? Are civilians permitted to own those? Yes, with a host of exceptions. The pre-1986 machine guns may be sold only by a FFL/SOT and must be registered with the ATF. Easy peasy, right? Not really. The process of registering a NFA item with the ATF is costly, invasive, and time-consuming. Federal law requires extensive background checks of anyone wishing to own a NFA item such as a machine gun. If you wanted to purchase a machine gun today, it would take close to a year, and you would be required to submit fingerprints and a photo to accompany your background check. Each NFA item also requires its own tax stamp, which costs $200. Once the ATF decides that an individual is permitted by law to own a NFA item, it adds that individual’s name, address, and biographical information to a federal gun registry and matches it to the serial number of the licensed NFA item. This goes for every item listed in the NFA, not just machine guns. Individuals with NFA items are then required to notify the ATF when they move and any time they plan to travel outside their state of residence with the NFA item.
And that’s just the federal registration process. We haven’t even discussed the cost of purchasing a legal machine gun. If you can find a legal, ATF-stamped, pre-1986 machine gun for less than $10,000, then you’re a miracle worker. A legal NFA sear — the machined part of the trigger group that makes a firearm capable of fully automatic firing — can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000. And lest you think that any random yokel can just head into the garage and cobble together functional full auto sear, think again. While it is indeed possible, the tools and know-how required to precisely mill the sear, not to mention the myriad other necessary modifications, are in relatively short supply.
The Alt-Right has also jumped in there blaming Antifa. Someone told me that Alex Jones accused the “deep state.” Jones is a wackadoo conspiracy theorist nor would I call him a conservative. There may be more examples, but I have not seen much on the right beyond offering sympathy, news updates, and sharing about acts of heroism. Most of the politicizing from the right (that I have seen) is simply in response to what the left is saying.
Politicizing from the right and the left should stop.
3. Know what you are talking about.
This point coincides with point number two but deserves a separate mention. If you are going to advocate for gun control, you should have some semblance that you know what you are talking about in regards to firearms, ammunition, and the law. The media is largely ignorant about this issue. It is rare to see a gun control advocate who knows what they are talking about.
It would be so much easier to have a discussion about this when everyone dealt with basic facts.
We do not know the shooter’s motivation. We have not seen any evidence citing the shooter’s motivation. Anything you see about motivation with evidence is just speculation. Spreading speculation does not help anyone.
Also, we do not know exactly what kind of weapons he used, what caliber they were, and how they were purchased. It is likely the shooter violated gun laws already on the books, but we simply do not know.
4. Prayer is one of the most important things we can do.
The number one cause of not only gun violence, but all violence is sin. We live in a broken, dark, evil world. We will never see the end of violence because evil is always present. The only remedy for sin is Jesus Christ. So it is of vital importance that we pray.
Only Christ can turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh. Only Christ can turn hate into love. Only Christ can change a life for eternity. God is the author of life. He is the God who heals. He is the One who brings comfort and peace.
I believe this so I believe prayer is the most important thing I can do. Those who diminish the role of prayer during times like these do not understand its power.
5. This event brings up all kinds of security concerns.
The thing that is most frightening about the Las Vegas event is that most of the conventional advice when it comes to mass shooting did not apply Experts say you should run, hide, and fight. You should first run – that is difficult to do when you are in the middle of a crowd of 22,000 people. The threat of trampling is high.
If you cannot run, then you need to hide. Where? I heard numerous stories of people selflessly covering up children, loved ones, and even strangers when the shooting began. There wasn’t anywhere to hide and find cover.
You also couldn’t fight. Even if the concert venue were not gun free, it just would not have mattered. The shooter was too far away. The last time we saw anything like this was in 1966 at the University of Texas, and this made that look like nothing.
How do you prevent a copycat? Ban people from being in rooms overlooking venues like the one in Las Vegas? Stop holding events in outdoor venues altogether? Not likely.
We need to understand that this is a future possibility and prepare accordingly.