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October 3, 2017

I guess we can all breathe easier now that the FBI says it was not international terrorism. Now that we know a white man did it, a U.S. citizen, born and bred. Thank god it wasn’t a Muslim. That would have really been scary.

Robert Kahn

By Robert Kahn

Deputy editor emeritus, Courthouse News

I guess we can all breathe easier now that the FBI says it was not international terrorism. Now that we know a white man did it, a U.S. citizen, born and bred. Thank god it wasn’t a Muslim. That would have really been scary.

The New York Times headline said: “At Least 58 Dead and 500 Hurt in Las Vegas After Gunman Rains Bullets on Concert.”

The Los Angeles Times headline said: “FBI Says No Evidence That Las Vegas Massacre Is Act of International Terrorism.”

White House press spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: “It would be premature to discuss policy when we don’t fully know all the facts or what took place last night.”

Right. Maybe it’s “fake news.”

Huckabee Sanders: “I think one of the things that we don’t want to do is try to create laws that won’t create — or stop these types of things from happening.”

What in God’s name does that mean?

It means that even the president of the United States, all the Republicans and most of the Democrats in Congress live in fear of the National Rifle Association.

It’s Monday evening as I write this. The NRA website does not have a single word about the mass murders of at least 59 people in Las Vegas, and 527 wounded.

Here is the NRA’s top headline: “NRA, Others Urge Supreme Court to Review ‘Assault Weapon,’ Magazine Ban.”

That interior quote is called a sneer quote.

The next two headlines on the NRA page are “Your Help Is Urgently Needed to Ensure Congress Acts on Pro-gun Legislation!” and “Hysteria Subsides as Campus Carry is Implemented in Georgia, Kansas, and Texas.”

But the NRA is not the problem. The problem is the Members of Congress who take the NRA’s money—who prefer campaign contributions to “keeping America safe!”

The killer, Stephen Paddock, had at least 16 rifles in his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, including AK-47s, some of them converted to fully automatic, plus boxes of ammunition and two tripods.

According to NRA reasoning, this mass murder could have been prevented if everyone at the concert was packing heat, and shot back at the hotel. Right? Isn’t that what the NRA says? Let kindergarten teachers pack heat?

Well, let’s say that’s true. How many tourists on floors 19 to 43 at the Mandalay Bay would have been killed by the fusillade?

Now, here’s an interesting thing. It wasn’t the muzzle flashes from his guns, nor the windows he’d broken out with a hammer, nor the repeated trips he’d made to his room, bringing up his guns, that alerted police to where Paddock was. It was the smoke detectors in his room and hallway in the 3,309-room hotel.

I ask you: If Congress and the several states can pass laws “forcing” hotels to install smoke detectors, why can’t they do anything about semi-automatic weapons, after 49 dead in Orlando, 32 dead at Virginia Tech, 14 in San Bernardino, 26 dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School — 20 of them little children?

Even if Stephen Paddock had not run wild Sunday night — if it were just an average day in the United States — 46 children would have been shot that day; six would have died (and probably did) from murder or suicide, and 40 wounded. Ninety-three people a day are killed by guns in the United States, on an average day: 32 murdered, 58 from suicide, and 222 are shot but survive.

The Vietnam war ended 42 years ago, but more Americans still die every year from gunshots than were killed in all but the worst years of that war.

Words are cheap, whether they come from the president of the United States, members of Congress, or the man who just shot you to death.

It doesn’t matter why Paddock did it.

It’s true there was nothing we could have done to stop it – not today, not in the USA.

But there are things we could have done to stop it.

We could do it tomorrow, if Congress, and the White House, and governors across the country were not terrorized by the NRA.

Categories / Criminal, Government, Op-Ed

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