Reflections on recent events, plus the occasional fact
free rant unfiltered by rational argument.
Propelled by a failed democracy, each round of 5.56 ammunition slammed into human flesh and bone. Kids scrambled for cover, boyfriends shielded their girl, whilst husbands dropped before their spouse. Huddled beside whatever shelter they could find—under vehicles and against fences, behind beer stands— shielding loved ones with their own bodies.
Stephen Paddock was not the first, he won’t be the last. Perched on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, with military grade weapons, he let rip. In the process, he perpetrated (for the time being) the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. It’s likely his record won't stand for long. After all, there exists no appetite for control or any regime that gets the guns out of the hands of nutters.
It would be convenient if Paddock was a terrorist of sorts. Had he been a Muslim that would be even better for those seeking to explain motive. and divert attention. Instead, he’s a middle-aged white man with a girlfriend. No criminal record, no history. Plus, he was rich. Very rich. Las Vegas Police continue to pontificate on motive. That’s no longer important to me. His motive was to kill. The issue is how the gun lobby facilitated his actions.
Did you know there are more venues in the U.S. selling guns than all the Starbucks in the world? And that doesn’t include the weapons sold at gun shows or over the Internet. What the U.S. has is a massive industry that fuels demand for its products by relentless lobbying. The main arm of that exercise is the National Rifle Association.
Any U.S. politician who dares to cross the NRA can expect it to release the attack dogs. Their methods are ruthless, brutal and unforgiving. They will trawl through your history, digging for any dirt. Family members, relatives and even your teenage kids are fair game. Attack adverts on TV, press conferences and background briefings all feed the narrative against you.
At a more subtle level, lobbying in Washington seeks to keep the message on track. Immediately after Las Vegas, the paid senators of the NRA were busy. ‘It’s too early to talk about gun control, we need to unify, we need to grieve.’
Trump avoided mentioning guns at all. He played his role to shut down the debate. He praised the cops, the first responders, stood with trauma doctors looking solemn.
In the past, the NRA used the argument ‘more good guys with guns’ is the answer. Teachers need to carry guns in classrooms went one perverse suggestion. That all fell apart in Las Vegas. On the scene were loads of good guys with guns. It still took them 70-plus minutes to get to the bad guy. In the meantime, he killed.
As a distraction, the NRA’s proxies started talking about the need for better hotel security. They questioned how he’d gotten guns up to the room. Fox News, that bastion of righteous outrage, picked up on this. Commentator after commentator did verbal gymnastics to attribute blame to everything but guns. The bump-stock that Paddock used to upgrade to full automatic then came under scrutiny. In a reversal for the NRA, it agreed these ‘perhaps’ could be banned. And we're supposed to see that as progress? Real change is an anathema to the NRA and its supporters.
Of course, had Paddock been a Muslim, with overseas connections, the outcome may be different. Trump, seated in the White House, looking presidential, would be talking to the nation. Meanwhile, the cruise missiles demolish some spurious target. Dispatched Special Forces turn the world upside down pursuing tentative support networks. Those options are not in the playbook when you have a white chap with no clear political affiliations nor resentment. Unless Trump is prepared to take out the sponsors of this terror … the NRA.
Of course, the U.S. is not listening when people talk of Australia’s success in getting the guns off the streets. In Hong Kong, the Police are ruthless in chasing down gun cases with relentless energy. The Courts then give culprits heavy sentences. As a result, our streets are safe.
In the end, you have to recognise that politicians bought and owned by the NRA usurp public sentiment. Those who aren't bought, get cowed into submission. The NRA made Paddock possible, made Sandy Hook possible, made over 11,000 deaths in 2016 possible. I’d ask who is the terrorist?
We want an explanation. We want a motive. We need to understand why this happened. All that is irrelevant, when we have frail humans running around with weapons. Motive and reason are secondary. The point is that these tragedies are pointless, and that’s what makes them so hard to take. Yet, we don’t need to help them by making access to guns easy.
Finally, nothing is going to change. Stephen Paddock tops the league at the moment for futile mass shootings. I predict he’ll soon get demotion. With 300 million guns in circulation, it's only a matter of time before another crazy starts blasting away.
Walter De Havilland is one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Hong Kong Police.