Mechanized Slaughter

The shooting Sunday night in Las Vegas is the worst mass killing in modern American history, with a single gunman killing 59 people and injuring hundreds as he fired shots into a country music festival crowd — but it’s different only in degree, and not really in kind.  Accused gunman Stephen Paddock was a little older than the norm, but he was just another lone gunman who was inexplicably motivated to indiscriminately slaughter random people for no readily apparent reason.  We’ve heard this story before.

reported-shooting-at-mandalay-bay-in-las-vegas-crop-promo-xlarge2Police officials will tell you that there is no viable way to stop “lone wolf” lunatics from launching their deadly attacks if they manage to avoid creating a criminal record, as Paddock did, and that’s the scary thing for the rest of us.  Equally scary is the lethal arsenal that Paddock accumulated and then took to his killing room on the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas casino hotel.  Paddock had 23 firearms in his hotel room.  (Paddock had another 19 firearms, and explosives, at his home.)  And while the investigation isn’t concluded yet, indications are that Paddock may have used an automatic weapon and modified other weapons to convert them from semi-automatic to automatic, allowing him to fire more rounds of ammunition in shorter time periods.  The devices found in the hotel room also included a stand and a scope that allowed Paddock improve his aim and better carry out his murderous intentions.

We may never truly know what set Stephen Paddock on the path to cold-blooded mass murder, and we may never be able to identify and thwart the impulses of other lone wolf killers — but it seems like we should be able to do something about the ability of a single person to amass a trove of automatic and semi-automatic weapons that could kill and injure hundreds of innocent people if that person happens to run off the mental rails.  I can understand people wanting a handgun for personal security, and hunters needing a rifle for hunting.  But there is a big difference between owning one or two firearms and owning dozens of guns that could be modified to fire dozens of rounds a minute and allow an unknown 64-year-old to turn himself into a ruthless killing machine.  We’ve got to figure out a way to prevent this kind of mechanized slaughter in the future.

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5 thoughts on “Mechanized Slaughter

  1. Given how seldom any sort of violence is committed using rifles, why? We don’t re-collar the Blacks even though they cause 50%+ of the firearm-related murders in America, do we? Hell! despite that 13% of a population being so incredibly murderous compared to the rest (still fairly small numbers objectively), you’re already calling me a racist in your mind just for bringing up. But, “do something” about the largely lawful ownership and use of various weapons? That’s a different story.

    Get the point? Reactionary laws are almost always bad laws and even more often are stupid things desired by stupid or ignorant people. (I’m thinking you’re in the latter category, someone who just doesn’t know the numbers)

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    • jon, neither race nor statistics has anything to do with the straightforward point I was attempting to make. If I am ignorant, it is ignorance of any reason why a law-abiding citizen would need to assemble an arsenal of dozens of weapons capable of killing and injuring hundreds of people in the space of little more than an hour. I don’t think it is reactionary or unreasonable to consider whether there is a way to address that very specific issue and try to protect innocent people from the depredations of the next Stephen Paddock.

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      • Why do I or any other need a reason in the first place any more than I would need a reason to by an SUV even though I live in the city?

        And I do believe that is reactionary or unreasonable to consider whether there is a way to address that very specific issue and try to protect innocent people from the depredations of the next Stephen Paddock given how rare these occurrences are in context.

        Also, what would you suggest doing about all the weaponry already out there? Planning on confiscation?

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  2. jon, I see a big difference between buying an SUV even when you live in the city and accumulating an arsenal of weaponry that could accomplish the kind of appalling bloodshed that was accomplished in Las Vegas. We already run background checks on gun purchasers — why not maintain records on how many guns people own, and legislate a reasonable number? I still don’t see why anyone would need to build their own arsenal of dozens of high-powered weapons — and, of course, the risk is that when someone does so, and they turn out to be one of the rare individuals who for some reason decide to attempt a mass killing, they can inflict a lot more death and injury than someone who doesn’t have dozens of weapons at the ready. I admit I don’t have all of the answers, and don’t quite know how to deal with those people who may have already amassed their own arsenals, but for now I’d just like to avoid compounding the problem and allowing more people to move into the Stephen Paddock zone, where they too could create the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

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  3. It will never fail to disturb me that people have a desire to own weapons made for no other purpose than to kill other people. Why are silencers necessary, what are we going to be hunting that we can’t sneak up on in the woods or wait patiently for the animal to appear? Silencers aren’t called silencers now, they’re called suppressors. The whole thing is barbaric. I understand rifles and shotguns for hunting and, I suppose, if I were living all alone in a remote and dangerous place (if I really stretched it) a handgun might be useful. If Thunderdome comes to pass I will be long gone to Newfoundland, the Canadians seem to be pretty sensible. I’m not interested in having a shoot-out with another depraved owner of a semi-automatic weapon. It’s not smart, fascinating, or sexy; it’s regressive. There is no logical reason for any individual to have that sort of artillery. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking with it until the NRA jams a weapon into my cold dead hands.

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