October 2nd, 2017

While The Guardian continues Live Updates into a second day, please consider this: the slaughter in Las Vegas is the 1,516th mass shooting in the United States in the last 1,735 days. In the last 57 months, 1,719 Americans have died and 6,510 have been injured in mass shootings. Look at those numbers again.


1,719 DEAD, 6,510 INJURED.

First, to the best of my knowledge in this moment, Stephen Paddock’s arsenal, which included more than 40 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition, was purchased and owned legally.

Second, consider this. Congress is actually considering a law making silencers, fucking silencers, legal. Title XV of H.R. 3668, the Hearing Protection section of the Orwellian-named Sportsmen’s Heritage And Recreational Enhancement Act, includes this specific language:

SEC. 1503. Treatment of certain silencers.

Section 5841 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by adding at the end the following:

“(f) Firearm silencers.—A person acquiring or possessing a firearm silencer in accordance with chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, shall be treated as meeting any registration and licensing requirements of the National Firearms Act with respect to such silencer.”.

We don’t know how many rounds Paddock fired before he took his own life, but the fact that we are talking about 59 dead (as of now) and 527 wounded means that he is likely to have fired, at a minimum, nearly 600 rounds. Now, assuming that Paddock’s assault rifles were equipped with 30-round banana magazines, that means he emptied and changed magazines at least 20 times.

Imagine how many more people Paddock might have murdered from the 1,200 feet away if his weapons of mass destruction had been equipped with legal silencers masking his location from police?

Then there is the elephant in the room: the terrorist’s white privilege:

Paddock, like the majority of mass shooters in this country, was a white American. And that simple fact changes absolutely everything about the way this horrible moment gets discussed in the media and the national discourse: Whiteness, somehow, protects men from being labeled terrorists.

The privilege here is that the ultimate conclusion about shootings committed by people from commonly nonwhite groups often leads to determinations about the corrosive or destructive nature of the group itself. When an individual claiming to be a Muslim commits a horrible act, many on the right will tell us Islam itself is the problem. For centuries, when an act of violence has been committed by an African-American, racist tropes follow—and eventually, the criminalization and dehumanization of an entire ethnic group.

We must demand that Congress shred, burn and bury the ashes of H.R. 3668 ensuring that such insanity never, ever again is thought of by lawmakers.

We must demand, instead, that Congress take action now, today, to shut down the gun lobby and protect real Americans from these weapons of mass destruction.

Now, lest you think I’m against gun ownership, I’m not. I’ve written before about my stand on the Second Amendment—spoiler alert, I support the Second Amendment—and I want to see the full amendment enforced. My short version is this: draft every citizen, male and female, on their 18th birthday. Allow gun ownership only to those who have completed basic training and become a member of (a) active military, (b) the active reserves or (c) the inactive reserves, aka the militia.

We must stop the national insanity.


  1. Mary Jo says:

    Jeff, I believe a sea-change is coming. This guitarist, performing at the festival that night, gives me faith.

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