ADDRESSING THE nation after Sunday’s horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, President Trump spoke of a country joined together in “sadness, shock and grief.” He called the massacre “an act of pure evil” and offered prayers and condolences for lives lost and hurt. He made no mention of gun control, but in thanking police and other first responders, he implicitly underscored why this country desperately needs to take steps to stop the toll of unleashed guns on America.
“The speed with which they acted is miraculous. . . . To have found the shooter so quickly after the first shots were fired is something for which we will always be thankful and grateful,” Mr. Trump said Monday. That at least 59 people — 59! — were killed in a terrifyingly short span of time by a single man holed up in a hotel room a quarter of a mile away speaks to the irrationality of gun laws that allow weapons designed for war and mass casualty to be commodities for everyday purchase.
Who pays the price? Schoolchildren, movie watchers, churchgoers, nightclub partiers — and, on Sunday, lovers of country music. Attending an outdoor festival in a city synonymous with fun, they suddenly turned into prey. “It just kept coming. It was relentless,” said one witness. Video of what has been deemed the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history shows people cowering and running for cover from a fusillade of rapid-fire gunshots. “My jeans are covered in someone’s blood, my T-shirt is covered in someone’s blood, my sister’s whole leg was covered in blood,” said a 21-year-old. More than 500 people were injured in the shooting and the panicked rush to escape.
Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old retiree identified by police as the gunman, killed himself as police closed in on his hotel room where a cache of weapons, including at least 10 rifles, was found. “The fact that he had those kind of weapons is just — where the hell did he get automatic weapons?” was the apt question posed by his bewildered brother.
As investigators try to answer that and other questions — including what drove him to this madness — the country and its elected officials need to ask how many more of these gun massacres we are willing to endure before taking steps to try to prevent them. Shouldn’t it matter that, as The Post’s Philip Bump detailed, the recent trend of these incidents has been a dramatic increase in fatalities?
Opponents of gun control say there is no easy fix. True. They say no law will stop every person who is intent on doing harm. True again. But America has no monopoly on evil or sick people, yet it loses far more people to gun violence. Other countries — notably Australia following a mass shooting in 1996 — have demonstrated the possibility of bans on assault weapons and other common-sense restrictions. What makes America unique is the absence of political will and leadership.