The arguments about guns and mental health picked up tempo within hours of the horrific slaughter of concert-goers in Las Vegas by a lone gunman who was armed with multiple weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition. The dialogue, similar to the same debate after the senseless tragedies in Sandy Hook, Orlando and other communities, will not go away anytime soon.
With at least 59 dead and more than 500 injured, the assault by Stephen Craig Paddock, a 64-year-old retired accountant from Mesquite, Nevada, stands as the worst deadly shooting spree in United States history. Not a lot is known about Paddock, other than he had money and a successful career at one time. He was not a common figure to law enforcement officials.
Was Paddock mentally ill? Was there a motive that is yet uncovered? Hopefully, something will give more insight into his deadly attack in the coming days.
In the meantime the horror and grief from Paddock’s ambush will live with the survivors and their families. Those who escaped the slaughter described a scene of panic as people rushed to find a safe place. Heroes emerged in the chaos, carrying the wounded to safety, or covering a loved one’s body from the hail of bullets, giving their own lives.
Like most mass killers, Paddock took his own life and will not face the American legal system. His sick act is over leaving behind death, pain and outrage. The story is all too familiar in the U.S.
As time goes by, the public and lawmakers must stop and consider how one person could be in possession of so much killing power and unleash that kind of horror.
Paddock, when the shooting came to an end, had killed or wounded what equals a U.S. military battalion. According to various sources, a battalion consists of 300-1,000 soldiers from four to six companies. For even a trained sniper to kill and wound that many people is practically impossible. The Las Vegas shooter, while concealed inside a high-rise hotel, brought death or injury to nearly 600 people.
People from many communities have been affected by this violent act, including a family from Cullman that lost a loved one during the shooting. We extend our thoughts to those who have suffered loss in this senseless act.
As a nation, we must look at the madness that is bringing so much tragedy into our lives. Violence that erupts in public places where thousands are enjoying music, shopping or family activities or in a school or business where individuals are innocent targets must be addressed. Of course, it’s easy to question how someone can set up an arsenal in a hotel room, but how often is luggage checked at a front desk? Despite safety measures being implemented as deterrents in many places by law enforcement, the acts still happen.
The Las Vegas shooting rampage is not a Second Amendment debate, despite what members on both side of the political aisle say. And anyone who loses sight of the loss caused by this brutal crime in a speech about gun ownership and how many rounds of ammunition an individual can keep is insulting the survivors and the victims.
Yes, we believe it’s time for more responsible ownership where specific types of assault guns are concerned. But this issue is much bigger.
It’s time to put more emphasis on the mental health aspects of this debate in hopes that somehow the Las Vegas massacre is the last of these mind-boggling acts of violence. Unless something quickly changes, the next horrific killing of innocent victims will make the headlines all too soon.