This Isn’t The Time To Talk Gun Control

In the aftermath of Sunday night’s massacre outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas by Stephen Paddock, 64 — a massacre that ended with at least 50 dead and more than 400 wounded, making it the bloodiest mass shooting in American history — the political actors got right to work promulgating their various agenda items. Gun control advocates sent the hashtag #GunControlNow soaring on Twitter. The president of Media Matters tweeted snarkily, “9 AM. Time for the parade of right-wing chorus of ‘now is not the time to talk about gun control policy’ to begin.” Famed British atheist Richard Dawkins was even less tactful:

Durn tootin’, great shootin’. Cool dude sertin’ he’s 2nd Mendment rahts. Hell yeah!
Every country has its psychopaths. In US they have guns

Here are a few thoughts.

1. The Motive Of The Shooter Is Still Unknown. At the time of this writing, we still don’t know the shooter’s motive.

He apparently had no criminal record, and was 64 years old. He’d been staying in this hotel room since September 28. Police say he likely acted alone, and the Department of Homeland Security has no other information on other possible attacks. We cannot call this an act of “terror” technically until we know the motive. The jump to making policy based off such lack of information is stunning.

2. How The Shooter Acquired His Weapons Is Still Unknown. We still don’t know how the shooter acquired his guns. We know he had at least 10 guns in the room, and there is a real-time debate taking place regarding the nature of the weapon he used in the attack. Some say he had a fully automatic machine gun, which has been illegal to purchase in the United States for decades; grandfathered weapons were still allowed, but purchase of a weapon requires over $10,000 and a serious FBI background check. As Charles Cooke of National Review points out, legal automatic weapons have been used in a grand total of three crimes since 1934. Modifications to semiautomatic weapons are possible, but they require planning and aren’t always reliable. We need to know such information before we can determine policy. People aren’t waiting.

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