Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Death in Vegas

Expecting yet another round of amorphous generalities and off-the-shelf solutions to the problem of determining in advance just which solid citizen will become a psychotic citizen, I tuned into Rachel Maddow last night. Much to my surprise she seemed to know what she was talking about and got right to points that needed to be heard through the clamor and frenzy.

How do I know these were important points? Because I've been trying to make them, that's how. And wouldn't you know the worst and most angry attacks against some simple ideas have come from our young Liberal friends who see any departure from dogma as anathema. Background checks would have been useless here. the weapons weren't bought at a gun show nor would registration have made a difference. Other things might have. Can we talk?

The first thing that occurred to me Monday morning and to Maddow on Monday evening was the strange fact that a man could bring at least ten rifles into a hotel room, along with tripods and cases of ammunition without anyone taking notice or bothering to have a hotel security person or even housekeeping take a look. The hotel didn't know where to find the shooter because nobody took notice.  Locating him minutes sooner would have saved lives.  So far only Ms Maddow has suggested such a small thing might have allowed this horror to have been averted. "Customers will kindly check rifles at the front desk." Hotels already have the right to do this. Anyone can refuse to allow guns on their property.  Why don't they? Little by little, step by step we can get to a better place.

But of course the degree of mayhem was so high because in some fashion some legal guns had been converted whether legally or illegally (we still don't know how) to something like fully automatic weapons. To the layman, that means machine gun or a smaller caliber submachine gun. This might involve drilling some holes and replacing some parts, or it could involve gadgets added to the trigger or the stock. Some of these are legal in Nevada and elsewhere, some are prohibited by Federal Law which heavily regulates gas or recoil operated automatic weapons, but ignores other forms.  Suggest that and the reaction is anger and mistrust. "We don't want that, we want sensible gun control."

Instead of the same old and vague cries for gun control, would some good Congressman suggest an effective way to get these devices off the market? Can we start there and not drown the idea in ad hominem attacks or raging about the NRA?

Such high rates of fire, it can be and has been well argued, are too dangerous for private ownership and perhaps those 100 round or 75 round magazines I see for sale aren't much less so. I'm not naive enough to think banning them would get rid of them any time soon, but it would be more effective to argue for such specific action than to blather endlessly about demanding things which demonstrably don't work and pretending they do.  Weapons that are not "military style" can also be modified of course. I've seen kits to combine ordinary hunting rifles to make perfectly legal multiple-barrel "Gattling" guns.  Let's add them to the list of things: destructive weapons, the Feds have successfully kept off the streets for many, many years. 


  1. Civilized folks, with a civilized government that understands its responsibility and mandate to insure the public's safety against threats foreign and domestic would have addressed and satisfactorily resolved this issue. And, we note, it is possible w/out adversely affecting the rights of hunters and sportsman, or, amending the 2'nd amendment.

  2. Civilized, yes. But the whole idea of civilization has been so undermined, I am not optimistic

  3. Only eight states ban large capacity magazines. If we don't blame the NRA for creating this political culture where it is career suicide for republican politicians to vote against the NRA lobby, then who do we blame?

    If a hotel in Las Vegas required its patrons to check their weapons at the lobby, it would lose business in today's political climate. Maybe Nevada will enact such a law. I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for the hotels to change their policies.

    I think that you and I agree in principle and stand with the vast majority of Americans, including NRA members.

  4. Banning magazines would take many years to have an effect, considering the number out there and that they last forever, but if the city mandated such a law, at least for long guns, no individual hotel would lose much. You may be right about the NRA members being more reasonable than the NRA itself. They're not there for the members but for the industry.

    But who do we blame? We cant escape some of it, since we muddy the waters so much with fake numbers and bad and hysterical arguments, against their cold scientific approach - and all their money of course. I've been saying all along that we need to concentrate on specifics and take small steps. This is an opportunity for that.

  5. Forgive me Captain but my admittedly jaundiced view is will AGAIN be an opportunity lost.

  6. For sure. There's a long way between venting, between trotting out the straw men and the usual cast of devils and an attempt at doing something that is based on information and will result in improvement.

  7. Captain, I think some of your suggestions fall prey to the same sort of objections that the things you mention above do. "Banning" rifles from Las Vegas hotels is virtually impossible; I am sure you have been in a couple of them, and know what immense warrens of public rooms and corridors they contain- no one can really keep people from bringing things in and out. And remember that Las Vegas is the home to gun shows virtually every other week, so it would be almost impossible to do what you suggest without having all that business go somewhere else, and it would be virtually impossible to distinguish (as in this case) between a gun show attendee and a mass murderer. And let us not forget the example of the famous shoe bomber from some years ago: once he was caught, immense efforts were put into trying to prevent such a thing, but no one has really ever tried to do the same thing again. The same thing would be true with this- many of these things only really work once, so all of the effort put into stopping them could probably be best spent somewhere else.

    Sad to say, the gun genie was let out of the bottle decades ago. There are three hundred million of them loose in the country now, and nothing short of removing 95% from circulation is going to really do anything positive; and that is never going to happen.

  8. I've never been to Vegas, but no doubt you are right, but if and when the lawsuit against that hotel is filed, you may see some ass-covering by other hotels. Yes, the number of guns makes things nearly impossible although I really would like to see some weapons regulated, but we have to recognize that criminals do not obey laws voluntarily and there are not enough policemen to attempt the kind of "gun grabbing" the gun nuts fear.

    The only thing about this that I find humorous, in a sick way, is how we can kill millions of innocents (and we so often do) yet lose our marbles when 60 American innocents die. Kill 20 with a truck and we mourn. Kill 20 with a gun and we go bananas. Says something about us as a culture.


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