LETTER FROM AMERICA: Las Vegas shooting: Now what?

LETTER FROM AMERICA: Las Vegas shooting: Now what?
 Stephen Paddock

Stephen Paddock

WHENEVER there is a tragedy resulting from some aggrieved person going on a rampage, Americans go through three stages. There are plenty of precedents and so the reactions have become choreographed.
The aftermath of the Stephen Paddock shooting at a concert in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring 500 more is now in stage three.
The first stage is set by first responders, the police and government authorities. Heroes hitherto unknown emerge, and the country looks at itself in the mirror and citizens regain their pride in being American. For instance, many Uber taxis suspended their fares and carried passengers to and from hospitals for free. Volunteer blood donors waited eight hours before the medics could attend to them. President Donald Trump gave up his mischief making for three days, traveling to three states consoling the grieved. Progressives, who in other circumstances avoid religious words, pronounced that they, too, would hold their compatriots in their prayers.
Acrimony comes in stage three. After everything is done and calm has been restored, the question as to whether the US, as a nation, can do something to avoid a repetition of these tragedies in the future arises.
Tragedies cannot be avoided, but perhaps, a rearrangement of society can make them less lethal.
One issue that always escaped the theoreticians seems very easy to explain. Paddock rented a two room suite on the thirty-second floor through an agency. He brought ten bags within the two days he was there. He laid out cameras facing the corridor, so he could have prior warning if the SWAT teams were on their way. The issue is why he was allowed to do all these arrangements without somebody becoming suspicious.
The question can be answered by using Jeffrey Dahmer’s story. Dahmer was involved in 18 disappearances. The remains of his victims, mostly women, were found in his refrigerator, in a house less than a mile from a police station. His twelfth victim, a Vietnamese girl, escaped and sought refuge at the police station. Dahmer calmly told the police that she was an adopted child who was having a tantrum. The girl was returned to Dahmer’s custody.
The answer is that an ordinary white man is rarely the subject of suspicion by police until a crime has been committed. No black man, in similar circumstances, would have escaped notice and questioning.
This explains Paddock’s free reign in a hotel. Of course there is the possibility that he could have bribed the house keepers as well and pretended to be having a honey moon of sorts. Even that scenario, if applied to a black, would not have passed the scrutiny of the hotel authorities. No black man, even former president Barack Obama, can boast of such a life free from police interference.
The second issue is the cause of much soul searching and acrimony. Paddock brought 22 guns into the hotel room. The House Speaker was not aware of a $15 plastic device called “bump-stock” which can be attached to a semi-automatic gum, freeing the owner from finger manipulation.
Progressives argued that such devices should be outlawed. A clever researcher found that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, under Obama, had been hoodwinked in 2010 and approved the device.
Then the argument shifted to how many guns a citizen should be allowed to own. Some people said perhaps six is a fair number. That too did not fly, if six are alright, why not five?
Australia suffered a horrific shoot-out in 1996. The government then banned all automatic weapons, bought back
600 000 and registered all gun owners. This law is being looked at as an alternative to the present free for all situations.
There is no possibility of success whatever. Americans derive their love of guns from the wilderness experience of the pioneering days and from the Second Amendment. This reads that a “well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of the state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
Conservatives, particularly in the South, believe that it is the manly thing to have a gun. My neighbours habitually offer to “go get my gun and bust that noisome squirrel.” Then there is raccoon hunting. I am the only citizen without a gun in my street.
The fear that the government wants to disarm citizens so that it can pave the way for socialism is real to country folks.
There are some regulations. While one can walk into a Wal-Mart Store and buy a gun, one has to show an identity card and a kind of register is kept. However, there are flea-market gun shows that are organised like festivals in every state. The gun-show is a big event in every town and customers travel long distances to witness the events. There, one can buy a gun and take it home right away.
Surely, a millionaire like Paddock would have been able to fulfill all the requirements of the law if he wanted to. The consensus, among religious men, seems to be that the emergence of social media and the exposure of social ills in society has heightened a feeling of general discontent in American society and a feeling that the standards and values hitherto adhered to were fraudulent and oppressive.
Therefore each man is a judge in his own case.

  • Monty

    Ah, mukoma Ken, you agree with me about how racist your America is. No Black man, chero Obama chaaiye would be scrutinised to death if anything looked odd, but for a white man, he will only be investigated after the fact !

    Garayi zvakanaka…Peace !

    • Gibson Ampaw

      A good reason why blacks should not go to America and stay in Africa instead.

  • kwv

    I would like to make a number of comments, Ken.
    1) I am happy to see that you quote the WHOLE of the Second Amendment. A great many Americans are ignorant of that.
    2) I was in Las Vegas a few years ago and went shooting at targets with friends, in the hills outside the town. I was amazed at the military automatic weapons they had, including an AK-47 and a number AR-15’s and also the limitless ammunition. All bought perfectly legally in Las Vegas.
    3) It is obvious that you cannot kill 58 people and wound over 500 with a knife, or a bolt action rifle, which is ideal for hunting. One does not need a machine gun to hunt!
    4) There will always be crazy disturbed people in all societies so the only solution is to limit access to weapons of mass murder.
    5) It always puzzles me that America which endlessly talks about their “democracy” – are terrified of their own government!
    From many visits to the people are friendly and open and only a few hold bigoted views, but with the commercialisation of news these bigoted people get too many opportunities to air their views. Americans in general cannot discriminate between Free Speech and Hate Speech, which is forbidden by law in most countries.

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