The instant Stephen Paddock mass murdered dozens and wounded hundreds in Las Vegas, the question was asked how could a guy get 10 guns into a major Las Vegas Hotel. There are several answers. One is obvious, the others much more painful to admit. The obvious one is that Nevada is a state that you can’t get more open carry with on guns. One can walk around with concealed weapons, assault weapons, holstered guns or let’s just say a mini-arsenal strapped around their hip. Or, in the case of Paddock, probably have them in bags or luggage; no questions asked. Nevada takes such pride on its virtual no checks at all on guns, that the NRA praised the state for practically being the closest thing to the old Wild West when it comes to letting anyone pack a gun, anywhere, anytime. Nevada is so gun happy that it achieved a near rarity when former Democratic majority leader Harry Reid, a moderate Nevada Democratic Senator, hooked up with conservatives in Congress to beat back a modest package of gun control checks during his Senate tenure. So, there was no chance that Paddock would go undergo any luggage checks or any other check to prevent his gun toting at the hotel.
Even if there had been minimal checks in place, Paddock still would likely have flown under the radar scope. The NRA has terrorized Congressional Republicans and a handful of Democrats for two decades from passing even the most modest of modest gun control measures. They’ve done it through a well-oiled big money, propaganda machine that spreads cash and favors around, and bolsters that with threats to do all to boot any GOP or vulnerable Democrat that backs comprehensive gun control legislation from their seats.
In the process, it has played the Second Amendment card for all its worth and created an unyielding and entrenched mass public constituency of gun owners and sympathizers who will go to the barricades against any attempt to put meaningful controls on guns. No matter how many massacres there are, and there have been plenty the past decade, can’t shake them from their resolute defense of virtually unrestricted gun ownership.
Then there’s Trump. Though he made some faint soundings as a candidate about backing some gun restrictions, he changed his tune fast once in the Oval Office. He barely put his foot in the White House last February when he quickly signed a law dumping former President Obama’s executive order to add mental health to background checks for gun purchases. There was not one mumbling word in his canned address on the Las Vegas massacre about the horror of gun violence, let alone taking a fresh look at gun control restrictions.
That’s not all that was missing from his wooden words. There was not a single utterance from him of the words “domestic terrorism” to call the carnage exactly what it is. Despite the years of carnage from these type of shootings, it’s still hard for many to come to grips with this bitter truth. This was painfully evident following the mass killing of 14 persons in San Bernardino a couple years back. FBI officials were initially loath to call the killings domestic terrorism. When they did finally brand the killings, terrorism, they made it clear that the killings would be investigated as a terrorist act “inspired by foreign terrorist organizations.”
However, this still begged the question of calling the massacre exactly what it was, namely domestic terrorism. The refusal to consistently brand massacres of Americans by Americans as “domestic terrorism,” strikes to the heart of how many Americans are reflexively conditioned to regard terrorism. It’s almost always related to the Middle East and the perpetrators are presumed to be Muslim. The FBI’s working definition of what constitutes terrorism is: “Terrorism is an act done or threatened to in order to try to influence a public body or the citizenry, so it’s more of a political act.” This virtually insures that Paddock’s slaughter won’t be tagged in official circles as a domestic terrorist act since his brothers in interviews repeatedly said that he expressed no political thoughts or had any known political affiliations.
There’s one final answer to why Paddock could so easily pack at a Las Vegas hotel. He was a white, middle-aged male, who lived quietly in a small Nevada town. He did not fit the set-in-stone profile of a violent, crime prone, type. That type is variously Muslim, Middle Eastern or a young African-American, or Hispanic male. The proof is the parade of young and not so young white males who openly strap guns around their waists or pack assault weapons under their arms and have brazenly walked down city streets in dozens of states with absolutely no fear of being stopped, let alone arrested.
Paddock, like them, had no worries that he’d be way laid before his hideous terror rampage. The even more hideous truth is that Las Vegas won’t change that.
Free Amazon Reading Tuesday October 3 ‘Let’s Stop Denying Made in America Terrorism’
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is the author of Let’s Stop Denying Made in America Terrorism (Amazon Kindle) will be released in August. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.