John C. Thompson
October 3rd, 2017
“You never let a serious crisis go to waste…”
- Rahm Emanuel, then Chief of Staff to President-Elect Obama, Wall Street Journal, 19 November, 2008
In Las Vegas, some 58 corpses were still cooling, when various US Democrats and talk show hosts rushed to use the shooting to promote gun-control. While it may be hard for many of us to accept the current White House as a font of wisdom, once again the current administration did something dignified and respectful by pointedly refusing to be stampeded in the face of a tragedy.
However, there were also more agendas at play in the aftermath of the shooting. While we should not be surprised by any atrocity pulled off by Jihadists, we cannot ascribe all atrocities to their account. ISIS, or more probably some be-pimpled ISIS cyber-warrior in need of fresh underwear, claimed the perpetrator as one of theirs and giggled to imagine the fear and consternation he may have caused.
He didn’t. However, those who took the claim at face value or gave credence to inventions from other keyboard commandos aren’t doing much better. There is no ‘deeper meaning’ and probably no hidden purpose to the massacre in Las Vegas, and the absence of an agenda means we shouldn’t insert one.
Crowds are always vulnerable to attack… a point that ISIS and al Qaeda remind us about as often as they can. But we have also been reminded by others to our sorrow just what may be done by one man with a rifle. Let’s remember that Las Vegas doesn’t seem to be a terrorist attack, and certainly wasn’t the worst mass shooting ever staged.
In 2011, a delusional Norwegian nutbar (and not a “right wing terrorist” – self-invented ideological factions of one are not terrorists), fatally shot 69 youths that he trapped on an island during a picnic. In 2008, 10 Islamic gunmen from Lashkar-e-taiba killed 166 people in Mumbai and injured over 600 people. Nine ISIS members killed 130 people in Paris (and injured 413) in November 2015.
The perpetrator in Las Vegas has, however, moved the bar for aspiring gunmen and others will seek to emulate his technique. Shooting accurately at over 400 metres is difficult for most riflemen — he used a bench rest to steady his scoped firearm. Maybe there are metal detectors in hotel lobbies, but did he cart most of a formidable arsenal up from his car in a hotel underground parking lot? He probably did.
The gunman wasn’t a trained sniper; training for them requires much use of concealment and knocking out two windows meant that the Las Vegas police had a tactical team at his door in 17 minutes. What made the difference this time was the incredible volume of fire the gunman produced.
Gun control laws in the US are as much a state responsibility as a Federal one – no matter how some legislators may lust to change this. Almost all states (including Nevada) have severe limits on the acquisition of automatic weapons. While not limiting access to AR-15s and other popular weapons, perhaps C-Mags, allowing 100 rounds, and ‘Bump Stocks’ which radically increase rates of fire should be controlled.
Nota Bene: The author has long been in the habit of deliberately forgetting the names of the perpetrators like the Norwegian gunman or the Columbine shooter… often because they hope their atrocity will bring them recognition. Incidents are remembered, perpetrators deserve forgotten ignominy.
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