It is now going on eleven days since the cops burst into Stephen Paddock’s Mandalay Bay hotel room, and the only verifiable fact which has emerged from the entire episode is that Paddock is evidently dead. One gun violence prevention (GVP) advocate explained this extraordinary delay as a necessity, since cops have to be very careful in making any determination about what did or didn’t happen because otherwise they might be providing a defense attorney with grounds for getting the case thrown out of court. Except that in this case the defendant appears to be dead.
I’m certainly not trying to argue that there should be any rush to judgement in a situation like this, but the result of this continued delay in releasing any hard data on what happened before, during and after Paddock began his shooting spree is that the virus of jumping to unsubstantiated conclusions based on no evidence and then using those conclusions to craft and pass new gun legislation is beginning to spread. Just yesterday, the Massachusetts House voted 191-3 to ban any device ‘that is designed to increase the rate of discharge of the rifle, shotgun or firearm,’ with the individual who violates this statute facing jail time of up to 20 years.
The state gun group, Gun Owners Action League, immediately took exception to this move, claiming that someone could be charged with violating this law just by cleaning his weapon which could then result in the gun firing at a faster rate. C’mon guys, if you can’t come up with a better squawk than that, you really should fold your tents and go home. But the bottom line is that this bill, which was actually an amendment to the state budget, will certainly be signed by Governor Charlie Baker, and as opposed to the proposed federal bump-stock law, the Massachusetts law is a real ban.
In defense of the gun group, it should be said that the representative who wrote and sponsored this bump-stock bill, David Linsky, is the same rep who several years ago proposed what has to rank as the dumbest response to the lethality of AR rifles, which was a bill that would have required all owners of AR-style guns to store their weapons in a locked gun safe in a shooting range or club. Unfortunately I can’t find a link to this bizarre attempt to protect residents of the Bay State from the scourge of what the gun industry claims is nothing but a ‘modern sporting rifle,’ but why should pro-GVP legislators like David Linksy have any more of a realistic view about guns than what is considered reality by the pro-gun group?
But getting back to where this all started, I simply do not understand how and why the Las Vegas Police Department continues to get everything wrong about what happened last Sunday night in Vegas, and why nobody seems to be concerned about when or if we will get the real facts. Now the cops are saying that Paddock first shot the hotel security guard before he opened fire on the concert crowd; last week they claimed it was the other way around even though the Mandalay Bay management is disputing this latest statement by the cops whose chief is saying that the timeline might “change again.”
The last I heard, at least three separate law enforcement agencies – FBI, ATF, LVPD – are involved in this investigation, and as I said above, the only thing we know is that apparently the shooter is dead. So if the cops want to wait until they really know what happened, why did they open their mouths in the first place?
I’ll tell you why. Because someone who got into that hotel room took pictures and gave those pics to someone else who published them online. And that’s the only reason why bump-stocks have become a subject of national debate even though we still don’t know whether Paddock used one for his rampage or not. That’s not very well done.