Photo by Hilary Swift, New York Times
Just after 10:00 on Sunday night, country star Jason Aldean took to the mic after a distorted guitar lick in his song “When She Says Baby.” But his voice was drowned out by an off tempo ratatat-tat. It was nine seconds of sustained, automatic shooting.
The singer took cover upstage. Confused audience members began to scream, some of them dropping to belly crawls, others running, still others collapsing from bullet wounds. Thirty-seven seconds later, the gunfire started again and continued for almost ten minutes. It came from a 32nd floor hotel window overlooking the Las Vegas country music festival.
The shooter was holed up in his ‘Vista Suite’ at the Mandalay Bay Resort with 23 different firearms. Thousands of people were exposed to his gunfire. Before the police could get to his hotel room door, he had injured 527 concertgoers, killed at least 59, and shot himself to death. His motive is unknown.
A Continued Legacy of Mass Shooting
This marks one of the first mass shootings in America for the month of October, and one of the deadliest since the Wounded Knee massacre.
The nation has hosted 521 mass shootings in the past 477 days, since the Orlando shooting at Pulse nightclub last year. Congress has done nothing about it since then. Nor is there any indication that Americans can look forward to legislative changes to protect the public from active shooters.
Satirical newspaper The Onion ran the same story they run every time there’s a mass shooting in America. They changed only the dates, place names, and body counts.
The White House’s Noncommittal Response
When asked if the president would now support changes in gun legislation, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said “there will be, certainly, time for that policy discussion to take place, but that’s not the place that we’re in at this moment.”
President Trump said “We will be talking about gun laws as time goes by.”
During his 2016 campaign, Trump was vocally in favor of more Americans having guns. He said that the Orlando shooting could have been prevented if the victims in the nightclub were armed. “If you had guns on the other side,” he opined, “you wouldn’t have had the tragedy that you had.”
Whether his stance on gun control will change after the events in Las Vegas remains to be seen.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi wrote to Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. She asked him to “help end this crisis” by putting together a committee to create common sense gun legislation.
California senator Dianne Feinstein has reintroduced a proposed ban on “bump stocks.” A bump stock modifies an assault rifle to function like a fully automatic weapon. The Las Vegas shooter used bump stocks to deliver hundreds of rounds per minute into the crowd of concert attendants on Sunday.
What We Know About the Shooter
Stephen Paddock, 64, was an avid gambler, and he liked to stockpile weapons and explosives.
He carefully planned the attack, outfitting his hotel room with cameras so he could see police in the hallways. He had hauled his gun collection up to his hotel room in ten pieces of luggage. This didn’t raise suspicions with the hotel staff.
Paddock had no previous criminal record. David M. Famiglietti, Paddock’s North Vegas gun dealer who sold him several rifles and shotguns at once, said “he just seemed like a normal guy.”