Of all the significant digits attached to the most recent mass murder, the shooting in Las Vegas, my favorite is this one.
Zero. “Between 1979 and 1996, Australia had thirteen fatal mass shootings. Since 1996, when the country introduced a law that banned the sale of semiautomatic weapons and launched a buyback program for weapons that had already been sold, there have been no mass shootings. None.” That’s from John Cassidy’s article in the New Yorker, Las Vegas, Gun Violence, and the Failing American State.
If we as a country value life (as we say we do in the abortion debates) then we should disavow the headlined policy and follow Australia’s lead in banning, retrieving, and destroying the kinds of weapons used in the Las Vegas shooting. If we don’t do that, we are implicitly accepting the policy that is the title of this post. We should then stop shedding tears, stop moments of silence, stop candlelight vigils, get rid of the wreaths, and stop saying we grieve for the victims - because we don’t mean any of that. We are just lying through our teeth.
Other significant digits are from the FiveThirtyEight morning email.
At least 59 people are dead and 527 people injured, some critically, by the high-powered gunfire that indiscriminately targeted a crowd of country music fans Sunday night from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. [ABC News]
90 shots in 10 seconds
According to a New York Times analysis of the videos, that’s the shot frequency observed in Las Vegas, which can be compared to the 24 shots in 9 seconds observed in the Orlando attack on a gay night club, where 49 people were killed and 53 were wounded in 2016, and to the 98 shots in 7 seconds that a fully automatic rifle can provide. [The New York Times]
Based on the definition that a mass shooting involves four or more people shot, the shooting in Las Vegas is the 273rd of the year. Only 275 days have gone by in 2017 so far. [Fortune] [Scriber:] For those of us who might be mathematically challenged, that rounds to one mass shooting each and every single day.
That’s the number of guns owned by the killer found either in the hotel room or at his home. There were 23 in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino and 19 in his home in Mesquite, NV. In addition, a number of loaded high-capacity magazines were found in his hotel room. Some of the weapons are believed capable of penetrating police armor. The haul included a number of AR–15-style firearms. [ABC News]
Too soon for talk as nation’s leaders are paralyzed
President Trump’s spokeswoman, echoing an argument often heard from pro-gun groups and their supporters, on Monday dismissed questions about policy responses to the Las Vegas massacre, saying it is too soon for such talk.
At the briefing, Sanders also warned against creating laws that “won’t stop these things from happening” again – another argument often made by the National Rifle Assn. and other advocates of unregulated guns, who often are on the defensive after mass shootings.
Sanders did not rule out a gun control discussion, however. She told reporters in response to several questions about gun restrictions that policy issues are "something that we can talk about in the coming days.”
The only thing sure to happen in the “coming days” is another mass murder followed by inaction.
“The president is clear that he’s been a strong supporter of the Second Amendment,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said from the White House when discussing the mass shooting in Las Vegas, the worst in US history.
Sanders, choking up at times, called the shooting spree “an unspeakable tragedy” — and said repeatedly that Monday was not the day for policy discussions.
Neither was Tuesday. Neither will be today. Nor tomorrow.
Why, pray tell, is Trump’s support for the Second Amendment not a policy decision?
It’s not just Trump. Congress has failed. And, as usual, they leave it to us - we citizens - to protect ourselves. This quote is really choice.
Senator John Thune, the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, … suggested little could be achieved through legislation. … “I think people are going to have to take steps in their own lives to take precautions,” he said. “To protect themselves. And in situations like that, you know, try to stay safe. As somebody said — get small.”
So if you get shot by someone who purchased 42 assault weapons, it’s your own damn fault because you failed to “get small.”
Hear’s more from the shop of horrors known as the United States Congress.
… Mr. McConnell said. “And I think’s it’s premature to be discussing legislative solutions, if there are any.”
Indeed, the only gun legislation on the Republicans’ agenda appears to be the so-called Hearing Protection Act — a gun rights measure that would eliminate a $200 tax on firearm silencers, refund silencer-tax payments back to October of 2015, and ease registration requirements.
Congress is, in fact, not completely stuck — even on difficult issues framed in terms of life and death. House Republicans on Tuesday took up legislation to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The House just passed legislation 237–189.
Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington, was incredulous.
“There is this absolute silence on the deaths that have been created through guns and irresponsible gun ownership and yet here we are somehow talking about the sanctity of life when it relates to abortions,” she said.
This one is freaking unbelievable. I quote: ‘In an interview with Fox News, Mr. Scalise said that what he saw in Las Vegas “fortified” his stance in support of the Second Amendment.’ (Scriber: you know - the Congressman who was shot while playing baseball.)
And on the local scene, in this morning’s Daily Star, More laws won’t stop mass shootings says Kan Rineer, executive director of Gun Owners of Arizona. Instead, he argues, that a return to morality will help.
We must exercise self control to the moral code. What moral code? That we shall do no harm to another unless that individual wishes to do us harm.
So how do we get there?
At the top of my list would be leadership rather than demagoguery.
We have our fair share of demagogues as is evidenced by all the calls for more “gun control laws” by so many celebrities and politicians. One went as far as to demand Congress get [off] their “bleep” and do something about gun violence.
Congress cannot fix what ails us and no law they can pass will stop it. The problem is one of a lack of morality; it is not a problem of too few laws.
In closing, let’s treat the illness. Let’s stop talking about more laws and start talking about who we have become as a people. …
Indeed. Let’s have that conversation. I started my version of that yesterday in my essay titled J’accuse: Our national failure and disgrace.
But Rineer is just making more excuses for national inaction on assault weapons.
And that brings us full circle to the policy I quoted in my title: “The policy of the United States shall be the acceptance of loss of life so that assault weapons are available for legal sale.” I made that up. But can you doubt, given what I and others have written about the latest mass murder, that this is the de facto policy of the United States of America?