We Still Don’t Know What Happened In Vegas. So What?

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We are now going on Week Four since the terrible, terrible event in Las Vegas and we don’t know any more about what happened beyond what we knew ten minutes after the shooting stopped, namely, the name of the guy who stuck a gun out of the window and began blasting away. Oh, I forgot, the LVPD is conducting their own ‘internal’ investigation and the management of Mandalay Bay is also trying to figure out how come it took private and public security more than fifteen minutes to get up to the 32nd floor after they were notified that someone was lying in the hall with a bullet in his leg.

LV2             The Connecticut State Police took nearly a year to issue their official report on what happened at Sandy Hook. The Governor’s report about Columbine was released more than two years after Klebold and Harris walked into the high school and began shooting the place up and detonating a few bombs. Have you even heard about the formation of any kind of official group to study and explain what happened on October 1st?

As the continued spiral of mass shootings appears to be swirling in an ever-widening circle (more than one per day so far this year) I notice that the same arguments about how to identify people who might start gunning everyone down are once again restating the same risk factors that we have known for the last twenty or so years. The latest version can be found in a commentary by our friend Garen Wintemute, who says that predictors of gun violence include “abuse of alcohol and controlled substances, acute injury, a history of violence (including a suicide attempt), poorly controlled severe mental illness, an abusive partner, and serious life stressors.”

The problem with Wintemute’s argument, unfortunately, is that those same predictors have been used to identify people at risk for any kind of violent behavior, and since only 7% of the people arrested for aggravated assault used a gun, how come the other 93% weren’t attempting to inflict serious injury in the same way? You can’t tell me that only 75,000 out of one million aggravated assaults occurred with a gun because it’s hard to get your hands on a gun. Give me a break, okay?

On the other hand, it occurs to me that maybe we really shouldn’t worry about learning the facts about Las Vegas and here’s the reasons why. First of all, folks who believe that we should have open access to all the guns we want to own don’t base their arguments on anything which happens to be true. Remember what Trump said the other day when he accused his predecessor of never calling the families of dead service members, an accusation which turned out to be totally untrue? He said, “That’s what I was told.” Know what? If you ask the average member of Gun-nut Nation how he knows that armed citizens prevent millions of crimes every year you’ll get the exact, same response – I was told. If I had a nickel for everybody who has wandered into my gun shop over the last 17 years and begins lamenting our state’s ‘tough’ gun laws by saying, “Someone told me….”

The other reason we really don’t need to know any more facts about what happened in Vegas on October 1st is because not a single fact would change what is the basic takeaway from the event, namely, that someone decided to see how many people he could kill by using what the small-arms industry refers to as a ‘modern sporting gun.’ Now of course the story, not yet actually shown to be true (here we go again with the search for facts) is that by sticking a bump-stock on a semi-auto rifle, Paddock was no longer shooting a ‘modern sporting gun.’

But the truth is he was never shooting a ‘sporting rifle’ because there’s nothing sporting about shooting human beings with any kind of gun.

All Of A Sudden Everyone’s In Favor Of A New Gun Law – Kind Of.

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What a surprise. A guy mows down more than 500 people with an assault rifle of some sort and all of a sudden Congressional Republicans, the NRA and their spokesperson, Donald Trump, are willing to have a ‘discussion’ about gun laws. Charles Grassley, who never met a law protecting 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ he didn’t like, wants to hold hearings; Marco Rubio, who used a visit to Sturm, Ruger for a photo-op during his brief Presidential campaign wants to insure that there are no ‘vulnerabilities’ in federal gun laws (whatever that means); and even Rep. Mark Meadows, head of the Congressional Freedom Caucus (a.k.a what’s left of the Tea Party) is open to considering a gun bill.

LV             Most everyone in Gun-nut Nation fell into line once Trump mumbled something about a discussion on gun laws as he was getting ready to fly to Puerto Rico before going on to Vegas the following day. There were some holdouts, of course, such as the nuts from Gun Owners of America who consider themselves to be the true holder of the flame for gun rights, but they can be ignored. As for Rush, he had to come up with some pathetic defense of Trump’s new ‘soft’ position on guns, so he’s spinning the bizarrely-stupid idea that the President is ‘pretending’ to be for a gun bill in order to get the left-wing media off his back.

And then we have the response of our friends in Fairfax, who rather than waiting a week and then blasting away which is what they did after Sandy Hook, have released a written statement supporting the idea that the ATF should review the accessory known as a bump-stock which can be used to make an AR or AK-style rifle fire full-auto even though the trigger is still re-set to its firing position after every shot.

So both sides are getting a little bit of what they want: the pro-gun gang aren’t discussing the banning of an actual gun and the gun-control crowd can finally say that the industry’s attempt to pass off assault weapons as something they call ‘modern sporting rifles’ has just taken a big dent. But before the political posturing on both sides goes any further, there’s something you have to understand. Here we are a week beyond when the shots rang out, and we still don’t know out whether, in fact, a gun with a bump-stock was used at all.

The cops who busted into the shooter’s room didn’t need five minutes to figure out which gun or guns he used in the assault. The floor was evidently littered with spent shell casings; look down at one and you instantly know the caliber of the gun. Then walk around the room, grab every gun in that caliber, put your hand around the barrel and the amount of heat coming off the carbon steel identifies the requisite gun. The cops were actually too busy taking pictures which were sold or given to various news websites to worry about the guns, which means this all-important crime scene was contaminated beyond belief.

And if you think I’m coming down too hard on the Las Vegs cops who reacted to the rampage in about as quick and effective a way as they could, think again. Not only do we have pictures of the guns floating around, but there’s also a picture of Paddock lying on the floor obviously very bloody and very dead. Who first posted this gem? Alex Jones – who else!

So now the entire political ruling class begins a debate about gun violence without having the faintest idea what they are talking about. What if the shooter was using a legally-purchased full-auto gun? What if it turns out that he bought what the gun industry would like you to believe is a ‘modern sporting rifle’ and converted it into an automatic rifle without using a bump-stock? Engaging in a discussion about gun violence without any evidence-based information has become as normal as gun violence itself.

 

Is The Response To Bump-Stocks A Ban? Nope.

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So the bill to ‘ban’ bump-stocks isn’t a ban at all.  It forbids anyone from manufacturing, importing or selling these things and, oh yes, you also can’t smuggle one in. Which isn’t a ban.  A ban means that nobody can own the product – period.  Which means that current bump-stock owners would have to get rid of them, trash them, disassemble them, ship them to Honduras, whatever. That’s a ban. The Curbelo-Moulton bill isn’t a ban.

bump             When Australia decided to ban assault rifles after a mass shooting in 1996 that left 35 people dead and 23 wounded, the government not only prohibited the import, manufacture and sale of assault weapons, it also made the ownership of such guns previously purchased to be against the law. Which meant that Australians were going to lose property that had been purchased in a legal way.  That’s expropriation without compensation. And that’s what a ‘ban’ really means. Gone.

To get around this problem, the Australian government added a 2% tax to the national health insurance and used the revenue to compensate assault-rifle owners at a fair market price when they turned in their guns. Now let’s say, for sake of argument, that there are 100,000 bump-stocks floating around, and let’s say every bump-stock owner got $100 bucks for turning it in. That’s 10 million bucks. Hell, we spend more money buying bottled water every week. That’s nothing.

But the reason we won’t ban bump-stocks isn’t because of the chump-change for getting them all turned in; it would set an interesting, and for Gun-nut Nation a very ugly precedent for other gun bans.  And if there’s one thing which unites every member of Gun-nut Nation together in defense of their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ it’s not that Mike Bloomberg is behind every, nefarious gun-control strategy that has ever been announced, it’s the idea that any restrictions on guns represents a ‘slippery-slope’ which will eventually lead to confiscation of all guns, or worse.

I’m not sure when the NRA began selling the idea that gun ownership was synonymous with ‘freedom,’ but every time any kind of gun-control idea rears its ugly head, the response invariably begins with some muddled nonsense about how guns make us ‘free.’ And if the cost of that ‘freedom’ is eighty or ninety people whose lives end each day because they got shot with a gun, how do you dare place a price-tag on the freedoms that Americans enjoy? After all, if it weren’t for that creep Bloomberg, the good folks in New York City would still enjoy the freedom to buy large-size, full-calorie drinks at sporting events and other public venues, and everyone knows that holding your assault rifle in one hand and a 24-ounce Coke in the other is as American as apple pie, obesity and 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

You think the same government which forks out a measly 10 mil for bump-stocks would even hiccup if it had to lay out $12 billion which is what it would cost to compensate owners for all the assault rifles laying around at $800 apiece?  We’re going to fork over $400 billion to give the three military services a new plane, the F35, which they really don’t need. Spend 3% of that dough to disarm America, then impose martial law, resettle the entire population of Syria and a few other Muslim countries within our borders and ship Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh off to the other side of the moon. I guarantee you this plan exists. You can also meet real, live Martians at Area 51.

The big problem for the NRA is how to figure out how an ‘armed citizen’ could have prevented what happened in Vegas last Sunday night. I’ve got it! Remember how Wayne-o said that every school should have an armed guard after Sandy Hook? Why not insist that every hotel busboy in Vegas be trained to carry and use a gun? I’m sure the NRA Training Division is already working on a new course entitled ‘Basic Gun Handling While Carrying A Tray.’

What Keeps Coming Out Of Vegas Is Really “Fake News.”

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Now that the investigation into the Las Vegas shooting has been going on for more than three days, the details coming out about what the shooter did and didn’t do in the room he occupied at the Mandalay haven’t clarified anything at all. To the contrary, the ‘evidence’ keeps creating more confusion every day. And by ‘evidence’ I’m not talking about a single, verifiable fact, but the continued on-the-record and off-the-record yapping by all kinds of law-enforcement experts who don’t know anything but keep shooting off their mouths.

vegas1             Here’s the latest from Jill Snyder, identified as the ATF agent-in-charge, who stated yesterday that Paddock had purchased 33 rifles and handguns in the last year, of which 12 of the semi-automatic rifles were then fitted with the bump-fire device which turns a semi-auto AR into a full-auto without either requiring a Class III – NFA license or breaking the law.

Great gugga-mugga! Even the Republicans are saying they are willing to consider a ‘ban’ on these things. Did you ever imagine that the NRA’s chosen people would state in public the idea that anything having to do with guns might actually be banned? Trump mentioned that although right now he’s busy praying for the victims but there might be time to discuss gun laws down the road.  The sacred 2nd-Amendment door has been opened a crack, Breitbart and Bannon are going nuts, but a law regulating guns in some way or another might actually get passed.

There’s only one little problem.  It doesn’t take 86 or so hours (the time which has now elapsed between ‘securing’ Paddock’s lair until right now) to figure out which of the 23 guns allegedly found in Paddock’s room were used by him to fire down at the crowd. Maybe it was a gun with a bump-fire device but maybe not. The news reports all say the floor was littered with empty shell casings; the casings identify the caliber of the gun that was fired, then check the barrels of the guns in that caliber to see the amount of powder residue and the temperature of the steel and you know. This doesn’t take 86 hours – it takes about 5 minutes to at least have a pretty good idea what you should be saying and not saying at a time when every word you say could be used to promote this agenda or that.

But why keep your mouth shut when this might be the only chance in your life to be able to say something that all the world is waiting to hear? On Wednesday, The New York Post carried a story which mentioned that one of the shell casings found on the floor was – get this – from the revolver that Paddock used to shoot himself in the head. Which means that first he blew his head off and then he emptied the revolver cylinder because the only way to remove an empty shell casing from a revolver is to manually unload the gun after it has been shot. Oh well, what’s the difference, a little detail here or there?

I’ll tell you the difference. People are struggling on both sides of the gun debate fence to decide for themselves what, if anything, is the connection between this particular event and the fact that more than 32,000 Americans will lose their lives this year because of guns.  How much will this toll be increased because of what Stephen Paddock did from a window in the Mandalay Bay?  A whole, big, one-tenth of one percent.

If Las Vegas provokes a serious debate about gun laws, I guarantee you that the debate will focus on this specific event as something which, going forward, needs to be eliminated or regulated through a new law. All the more reason why we need to get the facts straight and stop pretending that just because someone shoots their mouth off that what they say is based on facts.

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When It Comes To Mass Shootings, The Media Gets It Wrong Every Time.

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When truckloads of media descended on Newtown, CT after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook, the rush to get something onto a television or print report overwhelmed any concern for getting the facts straight. Within a couple of hours after the rampage came to an end, the shooter had been incorrectly identified, another ‘credible’ report said the rampage had involved multiple shooters and it was these reports, among others, which gave the conspiracy nuts the opening they needed to begin yelling that the whole thing was a hoax.

LV            In the Las Vegas shooting the media seems determined again to repeat the same mistakes it made at Newtown, with the first reports concerning whether or not the shooter used a full-auto gun or not.  It’s clear from various audios of the incident that the gun or guns he used could not have fired so rapidly had they been standard, semi-auto guns which require the trigger to be pulled for every shot. On the other hand, if the gun could be fired in full-auto mode, this doesn’t mean that it was an ‘illegal’ weapon, because there are more than 11,000 machine guns owned and registered in Nevada, although we do not yet know whether Paddock was what is called a Class III of NFA licensee himself.

On the other hand, what we are being told is that Paddock brought a bunch of military-style, semi-automatic rifles into his hotel room, of which perhaps a dozen were legally modified to produce a rate of fire not unlike what is produced by a full-auto gun.  This modification, known as a ‘bump stock,’ uses the gun’s recoil to simulate a rapid rate of fire although the internal part of a gun which controls the firing mode, known as a ‘sear,’ is not changed in any way.

So here was yesterday’s headline from the Washington Post: “The Las Vegas shooter modified a dozen rifles to shoot like automatic weapons.”  And how did the Post learn this? The story quotes unnamed ‘law enforcement officials” who turn out to be a single ATF agent named Jill Snyder, who was quoted in an online story on the UK Telegraph website which also contained pictures of two of the shooter’s guns lying on the floor of his hotel room.

Were these two rifles actually fired during the assault? We don’t know. Were these two rifles actually fitted with the accessory ‘bump stock’ device which is what the Washington Post wants us to believe were used in the assault?  We also don’t know. But here’s what we do know. The existence of those two photographs means that one of the most important crime scenes in the recent history of the United States was contaminated by the time the investigation of this incident first began.  And I don’t see anyone in the media or elsewhere professing the slightest concern about this egregious collapse of law enforcement protocol, even though a spokesman for the Vegas Metro Police said that an ‘internal investigation’ was underway to identify the source of the leaked pics. When the cops use the phrase ‘internal investigation’ what they are really saying is that there won’t be any investigation at all.

Give the Democrats and their friends in the gun violence prevention (GVP) community one more day to ramp up the noise about how we need stronger gun laws; give Trump one more day to praise the ‘first responders’ for their valiant work; give the NRA one more day to keep their mouths shut until the can figure out which way the political winds will ultimately blow; and I guarantee that we’ll start to see a swarm of social media comments about how what happened in Vegas is just another attempt to create an atmosphere so the government can take away all the guns.

Think I’m kidding?  There are already Facebook pages accessed by thousands of viewers which claim that Stephen Paddock had links to Antifa, even though the government’s trying to hush it up.

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