Sunday night was a night of terror. Fifty-nine people lost their lives when Stephen Paddock, age 64 years old of Mesquite, Nevada, rained gunfire down upon concertgoers at a Jason Aldean concert on the Los Vegas strip. According to reports, at least 527 were hurt either by the shooting itself or during the crowd’s panicked frenzy. Major kudos go out to the Vegas police for rapidly identifying the shooter’s location at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, and quickly acting to resolve the situation. Stephen Paddock was not taken alive—police believe that he took his own life.
When police searched the shooter’s room, they found multiple firearms, explosives, and paraphernalia which indicates that his plans were for mass murder. The FBI says that there is no evidence that shows relationship to any known terror groups, and police do not label his actions as domestic terrorism. In my mind, however, the evidence is clear, Stephen Paddock was a very disturbed individual whose actions should have been identified long before it got out of hand.
Some people believe that a person must be mentally ill to want to take lives in such a horrific way. This is not the case. Mental illness may contribute to violent tendencies, but it is not necessarily a causal factor.
Plenty of people have some form of psychosis and are successfully functional members of society. If indeed Paddock was mentally ill, and it is too soon to tell, the fault is with the social contract we broke in his case. No one tracked his purchases of fire arms, ammunition, or explosives. If he had a history of mental illness, no one checked his records and prevented the sale. If all of that checked out, and he passed every evaluation, then we as a people need to revisit our social contract and balance the laws to protect the rights of right minded gun owners, while working to prevent such a tragedy.
The 2nd amendment of the United States constitution clearly states, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The first half of this amendment gives the caveat that this right is important “as A Well-regulated Militia” is “necessary to the security of a free State.” It does not protect the rights to own explosives, or to personally own weapons capable of taking on the 66th Armor Regiment AKA “The Black Knights” (And yes, that’s a real thing).
We need a Balance. We need to come up with ways to keep ourselves and our communities safe, while promoting the freedoms guaranteed by this Nation’s founding fathers.
I hope we get there soon.