Like many other Americans, I woke up Monday morning to the news of a mass shooting in Las Vegas. The shooting was America’s worst mass shooting. At least 50 dead and more than 200 wounded. I was stunned. What type of monster could do this?
I soon learned that a gunman named Stephen Paddock, 64, had rained bullets on thousands of people attending a western music festival. Performer Jason Aldean was rocking out the stage before Paddock began firing into the crowd from a 32 story hotel window.
Authorities reported that Paddock committed suicide after police confronted him. Based on social media comments, people were shocked to learn the killer was a white male and not anyone of Middle Eastern descent. Paddock appeared to be a home grown terrorist. Paddock’s attack reminded me of former soldier Timothy McVeigh, who killed with explosives. Unlike McVeigh, Paddock wasn’t a military veteran.
Although authorities are still investigating, I find myself wondering why anyone would commit such a heinous act. Paddock’s brother didn’t think his brother was involved in any terrorist groups. But then he said he didn’t speak to his brother regularly. This proves that we don’t always know our siblings, other family members, friends, or co-workers.
Although any mass shooting is tragic, I always dread the aftermath opinions from politicians and others about gun control. After any shooting, the standard practice is for people to criticize the NRA and then to demand stricter gun laws. Of course thousands of gun laws already exist.
Fox News reported that Paddock had at least 30 weapons and also passed a federal background check. The federal government also reported that Paddock wasn’t on their radar. So if Paddock legally purchased some of his weapons and passed a background check, what type of gun law would have prevented this massacre?
I spent more than a decade working for Hamilton County Job and Family Services. I can remember visiting a residential treatment facility for children in Youngstown, Ohio. I asked the director about the history of the building. He said the building once housed mentally ill patients until the state closed down the facility and released the patients.
I then asked what happened to all the mentally ill people. The director said they were released to the streets. I found this disturbing because Ohio had many institutionalized mentally ill patients at one time. Many were housed in various facilities throughout the state.
My opinion of Stephen Paddock is that he must have had some a mental illness or something troubled him enough to commit such a horrendous crime. If this sounds like a sane person, then I stand corrected. Unfortunately, the American government doesn’t allocate the necessary resources to the mentally ill. As a former county employee, I can remember being told that mental illness would always take a backseat to other government spending.
I cannot help but wonder why our politicians don’t address why these mass shootings occur. The root cause would be understanding why people commit these crimes. Mental illness certainly shouldn’t be ruled out as a cause. Creating new gun laws is just a knee jerk reaction. It won’t actually solve anything. It just gives the public the impression that our political leaders are addressing the issue. To effectively understand why people commit mass shootings, you have to understand why they do so. Only then can we truly address the real problem.
Sadly, we all know politicians will raise their fists and promise to make us safer. And I am not gullible enough to believe that any of them will make us safer. It’s been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over.
Creating more gun laws that won’t work is what I call insanity.
Marc is a grandparent and longtime resident of Clermont County. Visit his author page Life with Grandpa and he also just wrote Just Bite Me: A Guide to Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Walking Nightmares, which is available on Amazon.com.