Will Las Vegas Attack Lead to Common-Sense U.S. Gun Policy?
The worst mass shooting in modern United States history took place Sunday night in Las Vegas. According to ABC News, police say suspected shooter Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old white man, killed at least 58 people and injured at least 515 at an open-air country music festival with 22,000 in attendance. While the motive for Paddock’s actions remains unknown, Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack Monday morning. According to multiple sources, however, U.S agencies, including the FBI, say there is no evidence that Paddock had a connection to Islamic State or any foreign terrorist groups.
UPDATE: Senior U.S. officials say no evidence Vegas shooter was connected to international militant group after ISIS claims responsibility
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) October 2, 2017
The Independent reports:
A statement published by the group’s Amaq propaganda agency claimed the attacker was a “soldier of the Islamic State”.
“The Las Vegas attacker is a soldier of the Islamic State in response to calls to target coalition countries,” it said.
Isis also claimed the gunman “converted to Islam several months ago”, without providing more details. Paddock’s religion and lifestyle have not yet emerged elsewhere.
A spokesperson for the FBI said no link to Isis had yet been found in the ongoing investigation.
Paddock is believed to have carried out the attack with high-caliber automatic weapons from a 32nd-floor room at the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino. ABC News reports that police “breached the suspect’s hotel room and found him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Officials said they believe the shooter acted alone. Police said more than 10 rifles were found in Paddock’s hotel room.”
According to The Guardian, it was announced at a 6 a.m. PDT news conference that Las Vegas law enforcement, as of Monday morning, did not regard the attack as domestic terrorism:
[Clark County Sheriff Joe] Lombardo says the police have found nothing to suggest a motive for Paddock’s attack.
Asked why they did not regard the attack as domestic terrorism, Lombardo said: “We have to establish what his motivation is first. There is motiving factors associated with terrorism other than a distraught person just intending to cause mass casualty. Before we label with that it will be a matter of process.”
Asked whether investigators had found anything to suggest a motive, the sheriff said: “We have not located any items within the room or his house [that would indicate motive].”
He also revealed that Paddock had been staying in the room since last Thursday. “We have information that he has been there [in the hotel room] since the 28 September. I have no idea whether he prevented the house keepers from entering the room or not. That is a matter for continued investigation.”
Paddock reportedly did not have any criminal history, except for a minor citation. A number of media outlets are referring to him as a retiree who lived in a retirement community. According to ABC News, he once was employed by a company that became Lockheed Martin.
“Stephen Paddock worked for a predecessor company of Lockheed Martin from 1985 until 1988,” the company told ABC in a statement. “We’re cooperating with authorities to answer questions they may have about Mr. Paddock and his time with the company.”
Paddock also was a licensed hunter and private pilot who owned an aircraft. Some sources are saying he owned or previously owned two airplanes.
“I do not recall that he was ever a person who created any problems for us,” the director of Texas’ Mesquite Metro Airport, where Paddock kept an aircraft from 2007 to 2009, told ABC News. “He kept his accounts up to date and we never had any problems with him here.”
Paddock’s family was shocked by the news.
“We have no idea how or why this happened,” Eric Paddock, the suspected shooter’s brother, told ABC News. “As far as we know, Steve was perfectly fine.”
While we wait to learn more about Paddock, one thing is certain: The tragedy in Las Vegas should lead to more debate about gun control legislation in the U.S. Perhaps this senseless event will be the one that leads to common-sense gun policies.
What is the solution to the mass shooting problem in the U.S.? Share your ideas in the comments section below.