As is often the case, politicians and commentators were fast to draw political meaning from the latest massacre. Of course, the most obvious explanation is that this was an attack by a demented and hateful individual. At the base of this massacre seems utter madness — untractable and unfanthomable madness. However, after saying that this was no time for politics, Hillary Clinton immediately denounced the National Rifle Association. At the same time, televangelist Pat Robertson cited the disrespect for Trump and our flag.
After 58 people were killed and 515 were injured late Sunday night, Clinton went to Twitter to denounce the NRA: “The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get.” She added “Our grief isn’t enough. We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again.”
The odd thing about the tweet is that the weapon being used by Stephen Paddock, 64, is believed to be a fully automatic machine gun. It has been illegal since owning any fully automatic weapons since May 19, 1986 (unless it was grandfathered in) If this was a fully automatic weapon, it was likely already illegal. Moreover, the suggestion that more would have been killed it a silencer was used is rather implausible. Putting aside the sound even with a silencer, there is the sound of the victims being hit and crowd panicking. A person may not actually hear the gun shots but would certainly see dozens of people being hit and a crowd stampeding. The suggestion is that somehow a couple dozen people might be hit but not many people take note of the falling bodies.
Over at the The 700 Club, Pat Robertson had his own taken:
“Violence in the streets, ladies and gentlemen. Why is it happening? The fact that we have disrespect for authority; there is profound disrespect for our president, all across this nation they say terrible things about him. It’s in the news, it’s in other places. There is disrespect now for our national anthem, disrespect for our veterans, disrespect for the institutions of our government, disrespect for the court system. All the way up and down the line, disrespect.”
Once again, Paddock appears to be an unhinged lunatic who carried out his fantasy of hate and death. I have as skeptical of the influence of anti-Trump comments as I am the relevance of silencer rules to this massacre. It appears to be profound hate, not profound disrespect, that put Paddock in that room. In the end, there may be no “message” to an act of senseless savagery.