Eric Zavinski – Editor in Chief
A gunman left at least 59 people dead and more than 500 injured in the worst U.S. shooting in our country’s history Sunday night at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, and humans everywhere have felt the effect of unimaginable loss.
In the wake of grieving often comes theorizing about how the event could have been prevented, or how one like it could be prevented in the future. And with those ideas, politics regarding gun control, mental health care and more come into play.
While those discussions can pick at the scabs that shooting aftermaths leave, they can at least feel productive. Then we realize that we keep setting new records in our nation for the deadliest U.S. shooting far too often. We may also realize that there might be no concrete solution for this violence and no rational explanation for why gunmen like Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock did what they have done.
Police who responded to the recent Las Vegas massacre went on record saying there seemed to have been no possible way to prevent the attack. Paddock had no previous criminal record nor mental health history that could have provided red flags to officials.
All that is known about the man is that Paddock, aged 64, had more than a dozen rifles in tow and used them to gun down hundreds from the 32nd floor of a nearby hotel. Even Paddock’s brother Eric said, “If he had have killed my kids, I couldn’t be more dumbfounded.”
Testimony such as this makes us wonder how hard it must be to track people who slip through life to become someone capable of such atrocious killing.
It is hard for me to make an argument for focusing on one aspect or another regarding gun violence because of how many variables there are to consider. Should we put our collective thoughts into thinking about how compromising some gun rights could diffuse situations like this before they happen or should we consider how an increased awareness of mental health could have provided Paddock and others with different outlets to express frustrations?
Virtually, it seems like an impossible question to answer. How can we pinpoint elements of gun violence to attend to when we do not know which unstable fabric of our society caused men like Paddock to act the way they chose in the first place?
We could just say there is no reason. Not only is that hardly ever the case with anyone, even those who seem mentally disturbed, but that also seems to be in no way a productive assumption; blaming some crazy guy in a bubble excuses us not to take action or sometimes even think about how things could be better.
I do not profess to have any of the answers writing this, but with the little power and knowledge I do have as an editor, I can ask that we all think about how the culture and attitudes in the United States help frame some of the worst incidents of gun violence, mass shootings included, this world has ever seen.
Like I urged two weeks ago, talking someone out of ill feelings could have an effect. It could save a life or, since we do not know who has the potential to be a killer or how they could go down such a path, the lives of dozens.