Las Vegas police could have known exact location of gunman before he opened fire on crowd

ABC News reports: On Monday, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo announced a change to the sequence of events that occurred on Oct. 1, saying a security guard who encountered Paddock was actually shot at 9:59 p.m. local time, minutes before the 64-year-old unleashed a hail of gunfire on unsuspecting concertgoers.

Previously, authorities had said that the security guard, Jesus Campos, was shot after Paddock had opened fire on the crowd below.

Lombardo said Campos immediately reported to hotel security that he had been shot. However, responding officers did not know Campos had been shot until they arrived on the 32nd floor and encountered him, Lombardo said.

It’s unclear what ultimately led Paddock to stop shooting at the people below. Officials had originally thought that Campos distracted him. [Continue reading…]

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How the U.S. government created and coddled the gun industry

File 20171009 25649 1ts0kj5.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
A U.S. soldier fires a Colt M16 in Vietnam in 1967.
U.S. Army

By Brian DeLay, University of California, Berkeley

After Stephen Paddock opened fire on Las Vegas concertgoers on Oct. 1, many people responded with calls for more gun control to help prevent mass shootings and the routine violence ravaging U.S. neighborhoods.

But besides a rare consensus on restricting the availability of so-called bump stocks, which Paddock used to enable his dozen semi-automatic rifles to fire like machine guns, it’s unclear if anything meaningful will come of it.

If advocates for reform despair after such a tragedy, I can understand. The politics seem intractable right now. It’s easy to feel powerless.

But what I’ve learned from a decade of studying the history of the arms trade has convinced me that the American public has more power over the gun business than most people realize.

[Read more…]

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The cancer in the Constitution

Timothy Egan writes: One of the great disconnects of our history is how a nation birthed on the premise that all men are created equal could enshrine an entire race of people as three-fifths of a human being. We tried to fix that, through our bloodiest war and a series of amendments that followed.

Not so with guns. The Second Amendment, as applied in the last 30 years or so, has become so perverted, twisted and misused that you have to see it now as the second original sin in the founding of this country, after slavery.

It wasn’t meant to be the instrument for the worst kind of American exceptionalism — setting up the United States as the most violent of developed nations. But it is now. The more we stand out for random mass killings daily, the more the leading cause becomes clear: the warped interpretation of the freedom to own lethal weaponry.

The amendment itself is not the problem. Yes, it’s vague, poorly worded, lacking nuance. But the intent is clear with the opening clause: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.”

The purpose is security — against foreign invaders and domestic insurrectionists. President George Washington relied on a well-regulated militia from three states to put down the Tea Partyers of his day, the tax-evading lawbreakers in the Whiskey Rebellion.

At the time, the typical firearms were single-loading muskets and flintlock pistols. At most, a shooter could fire off three rounds per minute, at a maximum accuracy range of about 50 yards.

Compare that with the carnage unleashed by the gunman in Las Vegas, Stephen Paddock. Among the 23 guns he hauled into the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino were at least a dozen that he had apparently modified into rapid-fire weapons of mass murder. [Continue reading…]

I would argue that the cancer is more extensive than the Second Amendment and is rooted in the deification of America which seeks to anoint this nation with a pristine purity that belies its human frailty.

Neither the Constitution nor its creators embodied a prophetic genius that could gave them unquestionable authority.

America is nothing more than a work in progress.

A capacity to adapt matters vastly more than any of its self-declared exceptional virtues.

Whether in the life of the individual or society or the state, adaptation is the name of the game.

Failures in adaptation result in extinction.

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As Republicans consider banning ‘bump stocks’ used in massacre, sales of the devices boom

The New York Times reports: Top congressional Republicans, who have for decades resisted any legislative limits on guns, signaled on Wednesday that they would be open to banning the firearm accessory that the Las Vegas gunman used to transform his rifles to mimic automatic weapon fire.

For a generation, Republicans in Congress — often joined by conservative Democrats — have bottled up gun legislation, even as the carnage of mass shootings grew ever more gruesome and the weaponry ever more deadly. A decade ago, they blocked efforts to limit the size of magazines after the massacre at Virginia Tech. Five years later, Republican leaders thwarted bipartisan legislation to expand background checks of gun purchasers after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

Last year, in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre, they blocked legislation to stop gun sales to buyers on terrorism watch lists.

But in this week’s massacre in Las Vegas, lawmakers in both parties may have found the part of the weapons trade that few could countenance: previously obscure gun conversion kits, called “bump stocks,” that turn semiautomatic weapons into weapons capable of firing in long, deadly bursts. [Continue reading…]

The Trace reports: Bump-fire stocks remain legal, but it is getting increasingly harder to find one to buy. Scores of online retailers have sold out of the devices, which enable a semiautomatic weapon to mimic the functionality of a machine gun.

Police found at least a dozen rifles equipped with bump-fire stocks in the hotel room from which a gunman killed 59 people in Las Vegas on Sunday night. In the wake of the shooting, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California introduced a bill that would ban the devices.

Bump-fire stocks are typically widely available for purchase on the Internet. WalMart and Cabela’s, two of the nation’s largest gun sellers, appear to have halted online sales of the devices early Wednesday. For retailers that have continued to sell them, business is booming. The webpages of several online retailers state that the devices are sold out.

“Due to extreme high demands, we are currently out of stock. Please check back with us shortly,” reads a notice on the website of Slide Fire Solutions, the manufacturer of a popular bump-fire device. [Continue reading…]

If it doesn’t exist already on the Dark Web, “Buy it before it gets banned,” would be a lucrative business geared towards the large market of buyers in America whose drive to acquire products seems driven by a fear of lost opportunities.

What exactly is running through the mind of the typical bump-stock buyer right now? Securing the opportunity for carrying out mass murder might not be on their agenda, but perhaps it’s a question of “just in case…”

Just in case what?

Since, as far as I’m aware, bump stocks have not been used in any of the recent mass shootings prior to Las Vegas, for Congress to now ban them would certainly be a purely symbolic form of gun control of no more significance than their obligatory rituals of solemn silence that signify nothing.

As much as the following proposition will cut against the American libertarian grain, there is another way of addressing gun violence that would involve banning nothing and yet impose massive and useful regulation.

If the ability to legally drive a car requires that I have a driver licence, insurance, and the car has registration and receives annual inspection, why shouldn’t the same level of regulation apply to gun ownership?

And if that was the case, why couldn’t the accumulation of stockpiles of weaponry and ammunition automatically trigger legal scrutiny?

Cars aren’t designed for killing people but their use poses risks to life and property such that the state recognizes the freedom to drive needs to be constrained by enforced forms of personal responsibility.

Guns are designed for killing people and that’s probably why the phrase “well regulated” was included in the Second Amendment.

The fact that a minority of people break the rules by being unlicensed, uninsured, or driving stolen vehicles, doesn’t make the regulatory system collapse. It merely requires that there is also a system of law enforcement.

Overall, yet imperfectly, the system works.

From what is already known about Stephen Paddock, he appears to have been law-abiding — until just recently.

Perhaps his response to being the son of a bank robber was to be better than his father in this respect: that instead of finding a dumb and illegal way to take other people’s money he would refine his skill in legally accumulating money that other people were dumb enough to throw away.

Had Paddock not been provided with the means to legally stockpile weapons and ammunition, there’s no reason to assume that he would have sought an illegal pathway to the same end.

He would have remained a miserable gambler who never made news.

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The gun lobby owns the GOP

Politico reports: Attention is being thrust back on the gun lobby as lawmakers give gun control measures a fresh look in the wake of the Las Vegas mass shooting – the deadliest in modern U.S. history. Gun rights groups overwhelmingly support GOP candidates, contributing $5.9 million into Republican campaigns in the 2016 election cycle, compared with $106,000 to those of Democrats. It’s also the most money gun lobbyists have given in a campaign year since at least 1990.

$5,900,000 given to Republicans in 2016 election cycle; $106,000 given to Democrats in 2016 election cycle

The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan think tank that tracks money in politics, found that in 2016 more than half of the members of the House of Representatives — or 232 of the 435 — received money from gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America. That money went disproportionately to Republicans. Only nine Democrats received campaign contributions from these groups.

POLITICO tallied contributions to representatives in the 2016 election cycle. Some, like Ryan Zinke, no longer serve in Congress. Zinke now heads the Department of the Interior, but he received $74,000 in 2016, making him the recipient of the second-highest contributions, after Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. [Continue reading…]

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What a macho, gun-packing Instagram star did when he was caught in the Las Vegas shooting

The Washington Post reports: Guns and women got Dan Bilzerian where he is today — the “King of Instagram,” with nearly 23 million followers, a mansion full of guns and a hot tub full of women.

He lines his feed with photos of himself and women in the wilderness, playing with his arsenal of rifles, his biceps the size of their thighs.

Bilzerian once trained to be a Navy SEAL, and while he never became one, he often brags of his apparently deadly prowess.

“My greatest fear is that someone will break in & I won’t be able to decide what #gun to shoot them with,” he once wrote as a caption for a photo of his table of guns. There’s even an official Dan Bilzerian video game about shooting zombie women in the Nevada desert, and then in a city, with scoped headshots and bodies in the streets.

But on Sunday night, in the real Las Vegas, the Instagram star found himself caught in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. He saw a woman lying dead, he said.

He turned a camera on himself as he walked, short of breath, from the killing grounds, and at first resolved to live up to years of online bravado.

“Trying to go grab a gun,” he says in the clip. “I’m f—— headed back. … Saw a girl get shot in the face right next to me, her f—— brains hanging out.”

But in the next clip, which briefly appeared on Bilzerian’s Instagram account and has since been plastered over the Internet, he stands in front of police lights, looking slightly dazed.

“Um, they got one of the guys,” he says, no gun in sight, all fury gone from his voice. “I’m headed back. I don’t think there’s much I can do.”

So he went home, leaving fans to wonder whether one of Instagram’s most formidable stars was something different in real life. [Continue reading…]

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Rosanne Cash: Country musicians, stand up to the NRA

Rosanne Cash writes: I’ve been a gun-control activist for 20 years. Every time I speak out on the need for stricter gun laws, I get a new profusion of threats. There’s always plenty of the garden-variety “your dad would be ashamed of you” sexist nonsense, along with the much more menacing threats to my family and personal safety.

Last year, I performed at the Concert Across America to End Gun Violence with Jackson Browne, Eddie Vedder, Marc Cohn and the Harlem Gospel Choir, and we got death threats. People wanted to kill us because we wanted to end gun violence. That’s where we are: America, 2017.

For the past few decades, the National Rifle Association has increasingly nurtured an alliance with country music artists and their fans. You can see it in “N.R.A. Country,” which promotes the artists who support the philosophical, if not economic, thrall of the N.R.A., with the pernicious tag line “Celebrate the Lifestyle.”

That wholesome public relations veneer masks something deeply sinister and profoundly destructive. There is no other way to say this: The N.R.A. funds domestic terrorism.

A shadow government exists in the world of gun sales, and the people who write gun regulations are the very people who profit from gun sales. The N.R.A. would like to keep it that way.

The laws we have in place to prevent the procurement of military-style weapons by mentally ill citizens are laughable by the standards of any civilized society. But even those pathetic restrictions would be eased if the N.R.A. had its way. Just this week, the House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on a measure that would loosen restrictions on gun silencers and armor-piercing bullets (the vote was indefinitely postponed after the Las Vegas massacre). It’s not hard to learn about how millions of N.R.A. dollars have spread throughout Congress to influence that vote.

If the proposed law had passed before the mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday, and the rifles in the assailant’s hotel room had been fitted with silencers, one could safely assume that the death toll would be much, much higher. Those who ran from the concert and survived did so because they heard the gunfire. None of that matters to the N.R.A.

I encourage more artists in country and American roots music to end your silence. It is no longer enough to separate yourself quietly. The laws the N.R.A. would pass are a threat to you, your fans, and to the concerts and festivals we enjoy. [Continue reading…]

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Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock wired $100,000 to Philippines last week

NBC News reports: Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock wired $100,000 to an account in his live-in girlfriend’s home country of the Philippines in the week before he unleashed the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, according to multiple senior law enforcement officials.

But while officials have confirmed that Marilou Danley was in the Philippines on Sunday when Paddock opened fire on a crowd attending a country music festival on the Vegas Strip, it was not known whether the money was for her, her family, or another purpose.

Danley, 62, who had traveled to Hong Kong on Sept. 25, could fill in some of the blanks when she returns to the U.S. on Wednesday, the officials said. Her arrival airport was not known.

“We anticipate some information from her shortly,” said Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo. “She is currently a person of interest.”

Paddock’s still-stunned brother, Eric Paddock, said he suspects the money was to take care of Danley.

“One hundred thousand dollars isn’t that huge amount of money,” he said. “Condemn Steve for gambling. Steve took care of the people he loved. He made me and my family wealthy.”

Paddock may have “manipulated her so that she was far away from this and had money,” Eric Paddock added. “As he was descending into hell…he wanted to take care of her.”

Meanwhile, senior law enforcement officials told NBC News that Paddock gambled with at least $160,000 in the past several weeks at Las Vegas casinos. [Continue reading…]

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McConnell swats away talk of gun control

Politico reports: Mitch McConnell did not want to discuss gun control on Tuesday.

The Senate majority leader shut down all talk of legislative remedies to gun violence after a man killed 59 people in Las Vegas on Sunday night and injured hundreds more, mirroring the Tuesday morning remarks by his GOP counterpart in the House, Speaker Paul Ryan.

McConnell declared this is simply not the time to be talking about legislation targeting firearms.

Asked if he could support a bill banning the conversion of semi-automatic guns to automatic guns being written by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), McConnell responded: “The investigation has not even been completed. I think it’s premature to be discussing legislative solutions, if there are any.”

The GOP leader similarly parried when pressed on why Democratic efforts have failed to resonate with voters. Senate Democrats put forward a universal background checks bill in 2013 that won the support of four GOP senators but was filibustered by most other Republicans. They lost the Senate in 2014 and the effort has never regained steam. [Continue reading…]

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How Trump turned the Las Vegas massacre into an America First moment — updated

Even though Stephen Miller looks like a ventriloquist’s dummy, it’s often clear that it’s Trump who is the dummy whose lips are getting animated by Miller — no more so than when the president robotically read from his script in an unlikely performance yesterday as America’s impromptu prayer leader:

In times such as these, I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness. The answers do not come easy. But we can take solace knowing that even the darkest space can be brightened by a single light, and even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope.

Melania and I are praying for every American who has been hurt, wounded or lost the ones they love so dearly in this terrible, terrible attack.

We pray for the entire nation to find unity and peace. And we pray for the day when evil is banished, and the innocent are safe from hatred and from fear.

For some cable news anchors this might have sounded “pitch perfect” and yet that perception required overlooking not only the glaringly obvious fact that none of these were Trump’s own words, but most importantly that his speechwriter should choose to single out the American victims of Sunday’s violence.

Even though country music is a quintessentially white American cultural phenomenon, Las Vegas is an international tourist destination and believe it or not there are actually millions of non-American lovers of this musical genre.

It might turn out that every single one among the hundreds of victims and their thousands of relatives and friends are or were indeed all Americans, but that’s actually very unlikely.

So, at a moment that calls out for human sympathy, why declare we are “praying for every American”? The lives of the non-American victims are surely just as precious and just as deserving of prayer.

And yet, at a time when America could engage in some kind of moral reckoning through facing the culpability that extends through gun dealers, gun manufacturers, the NRA, the GOP, Congress, the president, and all those who value the Second Amendment more than the lives of those around them, what better way of ducking the issue than turning this into a nationalistic America First moment.

Update — CBC News reports: Four Canadians are among the 59 dead in Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.

On Tuesday it was confirmed that Calla Medig and Tara Roe Smith, 34, both from Alberta, died in the attack.

Medig, who was in her 20s, was from Jasper, Alta. Roe, 34, was from Okotoks, just south of Calgary. She had been reported missing since Sunday.

Jordan McIldoon, 23, of Maple Ridge, B.C., and Jessica Klymchuk, 34, of Valleyview, Alta., were also killed when a gunman opened fire on a large crowd near the end of the outdoor festival on the Vegas Strip. Their deaths were confirmed by their families on Monday. [Continue reading…]

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1,516 mass shootings in 1,735 days: America’s gun crisis – in one chart

The Guardian reports: The attack at a country music festival in Las Vegas that left at least 58 people dead is the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history – but there were six other mass shootings in America this past week alone.

No other developed nation comes close to the rate of gun violence in America. Americans own an estimated 265m guns, more than one gun for every adult.

Data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive reveals a shocking human toll: there is a mass shooting – defined as four or more people shot in one incident, not including the shooter – every nine out of 10 days on average. [See the chart…]

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Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock, son of a ‘psychopathic’ bank robber, was a high-stakes gambler who ‘kept to himself’

The Washington Post reports: Before he opened fire late Sunday, killing at least 58 people at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip, gunman Stephen Paddock was living out his retirement as a high-stakes gambler in a quiet town outside Las Vegas.

Paddock, 64, would disappear for days at a time, frequenting casinos with his longtime girlfriend, neighbors said. Relatives also said Paddock had frequently visited Las Vegas to gamble and take in concerts.

Eric Paddock said his brother often gambled in tens of thousands of dollars. “My brother is not like you and me. He plays high-stakes video poker,” he said. “He sends me a text that says he won $250,000 at the casino.” [Continue reading…]

NBC News reports: The suspected gunman behind the Las Vegas massacre made several large gambling transactions in recent weeks, according to multiple senior law enforcement officials and a casino executive.

On several occasions, Stephen Paddock gambled more than $10,000 per day — and in some cases more than than $20,000 and $30,000 a day — at Las Vegas casinos, according to an NBC News source who read the suspect’s Multiple Currency Transaction Reports (CTR) and a casino gaming executive.

According to a U.S. statute, a CTR is a Treasury- and IRS-mandated report that casinos have to file when “each transaction in currency involving cash-in and cash-out of more than $10,000 in a gaming day.”

It was not immediately clear if those transactions were losses or wins. [Continue reading…]

Slate reports: News reports suggest Stephen Paddock, a reclusive professional gambler who lived in a retirement community in Nevada, had a very limited public profile before perpetrating one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history. His late father, a notorious bank robber who spent eight years on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List after escaping from a federal prison in Texas, was a very different kind of criminal. The elder Paddock, whose nicknames included “Big Daddy” and “Chrome Dome,” was charged in 1960 with stealing about $25,000 from three separate bank branches in Phoenix, Arizona. Paddock was 34 at the time, and had already been to prison twice for his role in what the Arizona Republic called “confidence games.”

According to witnesses who testified at Patrick Benjamin Paddock’s trial in 1960, an assistant bank manager took the initiative to follow him after one of the robberies and took note of the unusual radio antennas affixed to his getaway vehicle. Two days later, six FBI agents located Paddock near a gas station in downtown Las Vegas. When the bank robber tried to run one of them over with his car, the agent fired at his windshield. Paddock was arrested shortly thereafter; a search of his vehicle turned up a loaded .38 snub-nose revolver, a blackjack, and about $3,000 in cash.

Prior to his arrest, Paddock had been living in Tucson with his wife and four kids. (Most likely, the gunman who carried out Sunday night’s attack was among them.) According to a newspaper account, the family’s neighbors said they couldn’t believe that Paddock—who was known as a “hot rod racer who keeps his head shaved so he resembles Yul Brynner”—“was involved in crime.” [Continue reading…]

In social media in the aftermath of America’s latest mass shooting, once again there are objections to the fact that a white gunman is not being referred to by the press as a terrorist — the assumption being made by many that terrorist is a label reserved for brown people and mostly Muslims.

OK. Let’s call Paddock a terrorist.

There’s no disputing that he terrorized thousands of people in Las Vegas last night.

But beyond underlining the abhorrent nature of his actions, does calling the gunman a terrorist shed light on what he did?

Earlier today, ISIS made a transparently opportunistic attempt to claim Paddock as one of their own, saying he was “was ‘a soldier’ from its ranks who had converted to Islam months ago,” the Associated Press reports.

Really? Unless there’s some compelling evidence to back up this story or any other links to terrorism, I’m strongly inclined to believe Paddock’s career as a professional gambler and his family history had everything to do with the carnage he wrought and neither ISIS or any other terrorist organization or political ideology had any influence.

So why call him a terrorist?

Instead of pushing for a more inclusive use of a word that in common parlance has come to mean the worst of the worst, the most evil of human beings, maybe it’s time to face the fact that, at least in America, mass murder (typically carried out by men, usually white and using legally obtained weapons) is a much bigger problem than terrorism.

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Las Vegas shooting good news for gun makers

MarketWatch reports: Shares of gun makers rallied Monday, in the wake of what has been described as the deadliest mass shooting on U.S. soil.

Smith & Wesson parent American Outdoor Brands Corp.’s stock AOBC, +0.64% jumped 3.0% in afternoon trade. Volume topped 3.7 million shares, compared with the full-day average over the past 30 days of 2.1 million shares.

Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc. shares RGR, +3.48% climbed 2.7% and Vista Outdoor Inc. shares VSTO, +2.44% ran up 1.8% toward a 6-week high.

Analysts say the regulatory environment is among the biggest drivers of demand for guns, as fears of tighter regulation have boosted gun sales and share prices in the past. Since President Trump was elected, however, fears of tighter regulations have faded and share prices have dropped. [Continue reading…]

For gun makers, this would have to be the perfect combination: increased fear of gun control boosting gun sales at a time when a Republican president and Congress means there is zero chance of increased gun control. Add to that the fact that the Trump administration is looking for ways to “turn the spigot” on overseas gun sales and there’s never been a better time for trading in deadly weapons.

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What makes America first in gun violence

Vox reports: America is an exceptional country when it comes to guns. It’s one of the few countries in which the right to bear arms is constitutionally protected. But America’s relationship with guns is unique in another crucial way: Among developed nations, the US is far and away the most violent — in large part due to the easy access many Americans have to firearms. These charts and maps show what that violence looks like compared with the rest of the world, why it happens, and why it’s such a tough problem to fix.

1) America has six times as many firearm homicides as Canada, and nearly 16 times as many as Germany

[Continue reading…]

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GOP effort to ease gun restrictions put on hold

Politico reports: A controversial bill to loosen restrictions on purchasing gun silencers won’t be reaching the House floor anytime soon following a horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas that left at least 59 dead and hundreds more wounded, according to GOP sources.

Another bill to allow concealed-carry permit holders to take their guns with them to another state could also be impacted by the tragedy, the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

In what has become a familiar pattern, President Donald Trump and lawmakers in both parties issued somber statements of condolences following Sunday’s shooting, in which a heavily armed gunman opened fire at a crowd attending a concert. A number of Democrats called for immediate hearings and votes on gun-control measures, while Republicans and conservatives countered that it was inappropriate to talk politics when the tragedy was still fresh.

“Politicizing this terrible tragedy is, I think, beyond disgusting,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Monday afternoon.

“Unfortunately I think some of the statements that have been made are fairly predicable. A time with 50-plus people are dead and 500 people are wounded is not a time to be politicizing this. There’s plenty of time to talk after a respectful period,” he added.

While there is virtually no chance that any new gun-control measures will be enacted in a GOP-controlled Congress or with Trump in the White House, the shooting could derail consideration of the silencer bill, known as the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, at least in the short term. [Continue reading…]

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Las Vegas mass murderer, Stephen Paddock, was a retiree, licensed hunter and private pilot

ABC News reports: Police questioned the suspect’s girlfriend Marilou Danley, 62, who appears to have lived with Paddock in Mesquite, Nev., about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, but local authorities told ABC News that they do not believe she was involved in the shooting.

The motive for the shooting remains unclear. Police said Paddock had no criminal history, save a minor citation. He appears to have worked as an accountant or auditor and was a licensed hunter and private pilot. [Continue reading…]

Heavy reports: Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, had lived on Babbling Brook Court in Mesquite, Nevada, since June 2016. He previously lived in Reno, Nevada, from 2011 to 2016, and also had an address in Melbourne, Florida, from 2013 to 2015. He has also lived in Henderson, Nevada, and several locations in Texas and California since 1990. He was born April 9, 1953.

Mesquite is located about 80 miles, or an hour and 16 minutes, away from Las Vegas, along Nevada’s border with Arizona. Mesquite, a city in Clark County, is home to about 17,400 people, including several retirement communities, along with casinos and golf courses. [Continue reading…]

In the interests of accuracy, I should point out that I refer to Paddock as a “retiree” in the loose sense of the term — which is to say, he had reached retirement age and was living in a retirement community. What his source of income was, I have no idea.

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ACLU will no longer defend hate groups protesting with firearms

The Wall Street Journal reports: The American Civil Liberties Union, taking a tougher stance on armed protests, will no longer defend hate groups seeking to march with firearms, the group’s executive director said.

Following clashes over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va., the civil-rights group also will screen clients more closely for the potential of violence at their rallies, said Anthony Romero, who has been the ACLU’s executive director since 2001.

The ACLU’s Virginia branch defended the right of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other groups under the banner “Unite the Right” to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville park.

“The events of Charlottesville require any judge, any police chief and any legal group to look at the facts of any white-supremacy protests with a much finer comb,” said Mr. Romero.

The revised policy marries the 97-year-old civil-rights group’s First Amendment work with the organization’s stance on firearms, which aligns with many municipalities and states that bar protesters from carrying weapons.

“If a protest group insists, ‘No, we want to be able to carry loaded firearms,’ well, we don’t have to represent them. They can find someone else,” Mr. Romero said, adding that the decision was in keeping with a 2015 policy adopted by the ACLU’s national board in support of “reasonable” firearm regulation. [Continue reading…]

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Virginia did its utmost to ease James Hodgkinson’s path to violence

David Frum writes: America is more vulnerable to assassins than most other democracies, for many reasons. The United States is a less-surveilled society than Britain or France. American police forces are more decentralized than those of most European countries. Above all, the U.S. is vulnerable to this crime because targeted killing typically requires access to a gun—and guns are easier to acquire here than in any comparably developed society. We’ll learn more about when the Alexandria murderer decided on his crime, and whether his weapon was legally acquired. The commonwealth of Virginia certainly did its utmost to ease his way, however, by conferring the legal right to move about with an openly brandished rifle. (The City of Alexandria, though, where the shooting took place, bars the open carry of assault weapons.)

In the wake of this crime, as after the Gabby Giffords attack in 2011, we’ll soon be talking about whether and when political rhetoric goes too far. It’s an important conversation to have, and the fact that the president of the United States is himself the country’s noisiest inciter of political violence does not give license to anyone else to do the same. Precisely because the president has put himself so outside the boundary of political decency, it is vitally important to define and defend that border. President Trump’s delight in violence against his opponents is something to isolate and condemn, not something to condone or emulate. [Continue reading…]

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Congressional gunman had a history of domestic violence

The Daily Beast reports: The gunman who attacked members of Congress on Wednesday morning, wounding a GOP leader, had a long history of domestic violence that included the use of a gun and hated Republicans.

James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois, opened fire on a congressional baseball practice outside of Washington, D.C., a senior law-enforcement official told The Daily Beast. Hodgkinson was killed by police.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, two Capitol Police officers, and congressional staffers were wounded. They are all expected to survive, according to police.

Hodgkinson may have practiced before the attack, a neighbor told The Daily Beast.

On March 24, neighbor William Schaumleffel called the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office to complain that Hodgkinson had fired approximately 15 shots outside. A responding officer found Hodgkinson shooting into nearby trees and advised him to stop, according to a sheriff’s report, which added that Hodgkinson had a valid firearm license.

“I thought, my God, what is that guy shooting?” Schaumleffel recalled.

He told The Daily Beast that he was out in his backyard with his grandchildren when the shooting started. He heard one shot, then another, and then three in rapid succession.

Hodgkinson held the gun to his shoulder and fired across Schaumleffel’s field, he said. Schaumleffel said he yelled to him to say that there were houses in that direction and that he should stop, but wasn’t sure if he heard him.

The shooting started again, in what Schaumleffel now calls “target practice.”

“I told my wife, hey, I’m gonna call the sheriff. He’s liable to turn the gun on us,” Schaumleffel said.

Schaumleffel said had never met the Hodgkinson, and said that almost everyone in the neighborhood owned a gun. But no one starts shooting randomly, into the distance, like Hodgkinson did.

“He was being very reckless that day,” Schaumleffel said.

Shortly after the incident, Hodgkinson reportedly left Illinois and was living in Virginia.

Hodgkinson had a history of violence that did not rise to the level to prohibit him from legally owning a firearm.

Hodgkinson was the foster father of at least two girls. The first, Wanda Ashley Stock, 17, committed suicide in 1996 by pouring gasoline on herself and setting herself on fire after a few months of living with the Hodgkinsons, the Belleville News-Democrat reports. The Hodgkinsons gave an interview to the paper after her suicide, calling her a “very practical, level-headed girl.”

Privacy laws do not allow the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to release foster records.

In 2002, Hodgkinson became the foster father of another girl whom he allegedly abused, according to police record. [Continue reading…]

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