November 20, 2017

Some thoughts about Stephen Paddock and the Las Vegas massacre *UPDATE*

Stephen Paddock, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas Guns, Gun Control

Since Stephen Paddock killed 59 people and injured 500 more, his motive is still a mystery. Progressives want gun control through. Let’s talk about that.

Enough time has passed since news broke that Stephen Paddock committed a massacre at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas broke that the facts seem to have settled a bit. Now is therefore as appropriate a time as any for me to blog about it. Before I share my thoughts with you, here are the facts as I understand them:

Stephen Paddock was a 64 year old retired accountant and “ordinary” white guy. He had made a lot of money in real estate, although I’m not clear whether he had a lot of money when he died; he lived in a $400,000 house outside of Las Vegas, which is a valuable house, especially if he had equity in it; he had an attractive live-in girlfriend; he liked to fly; he liked to hunt; and he liked to gamble, although it’s not clear whether his gambling losses exceeded his gains. Oh, and one more thing: His father spent time on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list and was described as a “psychopath.”

Those who knew Paddock, including his family, were absolutely stunned that he would spend several days holed up in a Las Vegas hotel room with a huge cache of weapons that were either automatic or were jury-rigged for automatic fire; that he would have enough ammo to fill a suitcase; that he would have the ingredients for a bomb in his car; that he would fire into a crowd of concert-goers, killing 59 and injuring over 500, many of whom remain in serious condition; and that he would then turn a gun on himself. But it appears that this is exactly what Paddock did.

Regarding the guns, two Nevada dealers who sold him guns have stated that Paddock passed all federal background checks. Moreover, at one of the gun stores, the weapons he bought a rifle that was not fully automatic and a shotgun that lacked the range to do the shooting he accomplished from the 32nd floor. Paddock also apparently had at least one fully automatic weapon in the room and there seems to be no way he could have come by that legally.

Motive? Currently unknown. ISIS is claiming that Paddock converted to Islam a few months ago and carried out this massacre as his own personal jihad. Usually, ISIS has been accurate in claiming a connection between a killing and its loathsome ideology. However, with such a spectacular massacre as this one, it’s entirely possible that ISIS is piggy-backing so it can grandstand about the fearsome universality of its murderous message.

It’s just as likely that Paddock was crazy. Indeed, the part about locking himself up in a high place and then committing suicide reminded me strongly of Charles Whitman, who committed a mass shooting at the University of Texas in Austin back in 1966. (I attended UT, so that massacre is never far from my mind.) Whitman also barricaded himself in a high place, shot as many people as he could, and then killed himself when the police closed in. He too gave no indications before he cracked that he was cracking and his motive has never been determined.

From the first moment news broke about the shooting, though, I knew two things with certainty: Progressives would use the shooting as a platform to demand gun control and Progressives would engage in incredible hate-speech about the victims. The first, of course, was a given, but why did I predict the second to myself? Easy — the shooting took place at a country music concert. To Progressives, country music means God, guns, and Trump. It is their triumvirate of hate.

My real-me Facebook feed has been flooded with Leftist articles insisting that “now more than ever” it’s the time for gun control. I’m happy to say, though, that none of my Facebook friends have indulged in the orgy of hatred that Twitchy caught. You can see the hate here, here, here, and here.

The worst hater might have been Hayley Geftman-Gold, a CBS lawyer, who wrote on Facebook “If they wouldn’t do anything when children were murdered [presumably a Sandy Hook reference] I have no hope that Repugs will ever do the right thing. I’m actually not even sympathetic bc country music fans often are Republican gun toters.” Showing some modicum of good sense, CBS fired her.

I don’t think I need to say anything about the unbridled, frenzied, blood-thirsty hatred currently emanating from Progressives. These, of course, are the same Progressives that define themselves by their “compassion.”

That compassion is an undeserved, self-prescribed label. The bottom line is that they are Leftists and no matter how prettily attired Leftist policy is, underneath it is always about totalitarian control over the individual.

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Moreover, Leftists, despite their rhetoric about guns being evil and murderous, don’t really want to do away with guns. They simply want the government to possess sole access to guns. This is because they understand that, when guns are gone, there is no rein on government — which is ultimately what they want. They also tell themselves that their government will be sweet and loving, but I defy them to point to a totalitarian government ever, anywhere that meets that description.

(And no, I can’t account for the fact that Progressives simultaneously loath cops and want cops, and only cops, to be armed. Leftist fanatics don’t have to be logically consistent.)

I am vehemently opposed to gun control, although I do, of course, accept reasonable limitations. (No guns in prison. No rocket launchers on the streets, etc.) I won’t repeat my manifesto, which you can find here, explaining why I think guns are so important in a free society. Suffice it to say that I believe that (a) guns are a prerequisite to individual liberty; (b) there is no greater killer than government; and (c) the Left lacks the wisdom and imagination to see that guns don’t just take lives, they save lives. As a late convert to the Second Amendment (I was raised as a San Francisco Democrat, after all), I have all the passion of a zealot for this incredibly important right, the only right that allows individuals to ensure that the government respects the other rights inherent in all people.

It’s true that for this particular mass murder, the weapon of choice was bullets. But the problem isn’t guns or bullets; it’s a zeitgeist and one, moreover, that is appearing around the world, with a special concentration of late in Europe.

The zeitgeist is at its strongest, of course, among Islamists, whose ideology drives them to kill.  However, crazy people’s delusions will always reflect the zeitgeist. In religious times, crazy people acted at the Devil’s behest. In times of space exploration, they were responding to Martian voices. And now, when the crazy volume in their head increases, well, they’re going to go full terrorist, whether religiously motivated or not. (As noted above, the jury is out on ISIS’s claim that Paddock was one of theirs.)

Here are just some examples of the zeitgeist:

  • September 11, 2001, New York and Washington, D.C.: 2,996 people killed with box cutters and airplanes.
  • March 11, 2004, Madrid: 192 people killed and over 2,000 wounded with strategically placed bombs. (Spain has strict gun control.)
  • September 1, 2004: 385 people killed (mostly children) and almost 800 wounded with guns and explosives. (Russia has strict gun control.)
  • July 7, 2005, London: 56 people killed and almost 800 wounded with strategically placed bombs.
  • November 26-29, 2008, Mumbai: 166 people killed and more than 600 injured through the use of bombs and guns. (India has strict gun control.)
  • September 21, 2013, Nairobi: 71 killed and more than 170 injured through the use of guns.
  • November 13-14, 2015, Paris: 130 killed and over 300 wounded through the use of guns and explosives. (France has strict gun control.)
  • July 4, 2015, Nice: 86 killed and over 400 injured by a truck attack and shooting. (Again, France has strict gun control.)
  • December 2, 2015: 14 killed and 24 wounded by a gun attack.
  • December 19, 2016, Berlin: 11 killed and almost 60 injured by a combined truck, stabbing, and shooting attack. (Germany has strict gun control.)
  • May 22, 2017, Manchester: 22 killed (many of whom were children) and 250 injured by a suicide bomber.
  • June 3, 2017, London: 8 killed and 48 injured by a truck and knife attack.

The above is a short list. As you can see, many of the worst attacks either didn’t involve guns at all or, if they involved guns, took place in countries subject to tight gun control. The weapons aren’t the problem. The zeitgeist is.

A couple of other points —

One of the most interesting things I’ve read about the shooting came from David French, in part because he noticed what I’d noticed, which is the similarity to Charles Whitman’s shooting spree. French points out a few other peculiarities:

As virtually everyone has noted from the abundant video footage of the incident, it certainly sounds as if the shooter used either fully-automatic weapons or semi-automatic weapons modified (through, for example, a bump fire stock) to closely simulate automatic fire. Moreover, the police are reporting that he had “more than 10 rifles.” He apparently rented his corner room for days and may have even set up cameras to detect when police were approaching. That’s all strange enough, but it’s even more unusual when you consider that his own family apparently didn’t know that he maintained a stockpile of guns.

[snip]

Put all this together, and the shooting is flat-out bizarre. It’s significantly different from virtually any other mass shooting in U.S. history. If the weapons were fully automatic, then he likely would have spent immense sums of money to obtain them legally, jumping through extensive legal hoops.

[snip]

So, a person who’s “not a gun guy” has either expended untold thousands of dollars to legally purchase fully-automatic weapons, somehow found them on the black market, or purchased and substantially modified multiple semi-automatic weapons — and did so with enough competence to create a sustained rate of fire. This same person also spent substantial sums purchasing just the right hotel room to maximize casualties. I cannot think of a single other mass shooter who went to this level of expense and planning in the entire history of the United States.

[snip]

Given the firepower and the packed mass of people, it’s easy to see how the casualty count was so high, even firing from an extreme range (by the standards of mass shootings.) This was the University of Texas tower attack on steroids, conducted out of nowhere, with meticulous planning and at great expense, from a person who doesn’t seem to fit any normal profile of a mass shooter. There is much we have yet to learn, but for now, this is one of the most chilling and mysterious events I’ve ever seen.

Do read the whole thing. The information that’s come out since he wrote his post only adds to the mystery, instead of elucidating it.

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While ISIS is doubling down on its insistence that Paddock was one of theirs, that still doesn’t mean anything. However, for the sake of the following, I’m going to assume that Paddock was not part of ISIS nor was he insane. Instead, just for the heck of it, how about a wacky conspiracy theory from me? Think of my theory as the stupid plot for a really bad thriller. But nevertheless, here it is:

Let’s accept that there is absolutely nothing about Paddock that explains what he did: He wasn’t in debt, he didn’t owe the mob, he didn’t have a brain tumor, he wasn’t hearing voices, he hadn’t broken with his girlfriend, he wasn’t a psychopath, and he wasn’t a Muslim convert. With all those wasn’ts and didn’ts, maybe Paddock wasn’t the shooter at all. (I did say bad plot, stupid thriller.) Maybe he was nothing more than a fall guy.

Imagine that some terrorists or other, for McGuffin reasons (see below), kidnapped Paddock, smuggled him into the hotel, and then set about doing exactly what Paddock is said to have done: They brought massive numbers of weapons into the room over the course of several days, put cameras outside the room to monitor for police, and then, last night, they opened fire on a country music concert. Meanwhile, Paddock was there, conscious or not, but definitely not a participant. Perhaps he was bound in a way that wouldn’t leave marks, or had a gun to his head, or was being threatened with horrible things.

When the actual, mystery killers saw the police closing in, they shot Paddock, arranged it to look like a suicide, and then escaped through the ventilation system. In bad thrillers, there are always ventilation systems through which people can escape.

And here are two McGuffin reasons for using this elaborate method to massacre dozens of people, while placing the blame on an innocent scapegoat: (1) This is a Leftist plot to create a demand for gun control. Consider it the private version of Obama’s and Holder’s Fast & Furious initiative. (2) This is a Leftist plot to kill country music people who are associated with guns, God, and Trump.

Do I believe any part of my wacky theory? But this whole thing is so crazy why not indulge oneself thinking outside of the box?

UPDATE: Ken in NH corrects me about Charles Whitman:

Whitman had complained about his deteriorating mental condition to several doctors and a psychiatrist. In his suicide note, he requested an autopsy and an autopsy did find a necrotic tumor in his brain. There is dispute about whether that caused his mental condition, but it seems obvious that it must have.

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Bookworm came late to conservativism but embraced it with passion. She's been blogging since 2004 about anything that captures her fancy -- and that's usually politics. Her blog's motto is "Conservatives deal with facts and reach conclusions; liberals have conclusions and sell them as facts."