Mass murders are common in the United States but the killing of 50 people by lone wolf Stephen Paddock has gone down as one of the worst incidents of public massacre in modern American history. More than 400 were injured when Paddock sprayed the crowd of around 22,000 in an outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas with a rapid-fire barrage of bullets.
Paddock has been living in Nevada which has one of the most relaxed gun laws in the US. The Las Vegas mass murders has brought the focus back on easy access to sophisticated weapons. One does not need a license to possess firearms in Nevada. There is no limit on the firearms one can posses. Even automatic assault weapons are allowed with minimum registration formalities. Complicating things is an unsubstantiated claim by is which says that paddock converted to Islam recently.
As is often the case with lone wolfs, Paddock, 64, from Mesquite, Nevada, had no history of hysterical behaviour. The police recovered at least 10 weapons from his room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. He had checked into the resort on September 28 unchecked with so many guns. His room overlooked the concert venue.
Not much is expected to change on the loose gun laws as US president Donald Trump has been one of the strongest advocates of preserving firearm rights. In fact, he had relaxed restrictions for mentally ill people purchasing a gun.
However, America’s powerful rights to carry firearms lobby is going to come under fresh pressure after the Nevada killings. Not much is expected from Trump though as his strong view on the issue were reiterated in April when he addressed the National Rifle Association where he attacked his predecessor Barack Obama for an eight year assault on gun rights. Trump called himself a true friend and champion of the rifle association as he announced that federal agencies will not go after law abiding gun owners. He hasn’t stopped there. The Trump administration is considering opening up of gun exports.
The last such mass murder in the US was reported in June 2016 in an Orlando night club that left 50 dead. The attacker, who was also killed, was influenced by Islamic State though it is yet to be conclusively proved. Washington Post reported in August 2015 that one mass shooting averages per day in the US. That year also, 1,464 people were either killed or injured in such incidents.
The police has not found any evidence of Paddock being linked to any international terror group yet. But according to Nevada’s laws, the incident will be seen as an act of terrorism. Paddock’s background will help police in profiling him but the larger issue of gun control remains to be resolved.
The US has reached nowhere on regulating guns since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The powerful gun rights lobby has managed to thwart any attempt to bring strict laws advocated by Barack Obama to bear. Trump has his own way of dealing with contentious issues and in all possibility the Nevada killings are not going to change his mind on something he has strongly defended. However, the outpouring of grief and anger over mass murders, which are getting bigger in scale, the Trump administration has certainly come under pressure to at least review its position on this infamous and liberal law.