At least 58 people have died and over 500 have been injured in what is officially the worst mass-shooting in US history, the third time in 10 years that such a record has been set. The shooting occurred during a Jason Aldean concert, and the shooter has been identified as Stephen Paddock, 64. He has been confirmed killed, and there is no evidence of connections to foreign terror groups in spite of claims made by IS that they are responsible and that Stephen Paddock recently converted to Islam.
I believe I speak for the whole BasementBanter staff when I offer our condolences to anyone affected by this horrible attack. Here is a link to a Huffington Post article with a few ways to help the victims by donating either money or blood (there’s also a mention of calling your representatives in Congress about gun control legislation, but that can wait as the money and blood are considerably more pressing). Additionally, for information on locating people gone missing from the shooting you can call Las Vegas PD at (866) 535-5654.
The immediate aftermath of tragedies such as this one are always difficult. On the one hand, people are averse to political grandstanding about these issues out of respect for the victims and their families. On the other hand, the time seems fairly appropriate to suggest policy changes that would prevent future mass-shootings from happening.
What Will It Take
As I mentioned earlier, this is the third time in 10 years that the US has experienced its deadliest mass-shooting. Many people are pointing out that if Sandy Hook wasn’t enough to make serious changes to national gun-control legislation, nothing will be. Gun nuts have quickly taken to Twitter to defend the most oppressed community of people in the country: gun owners (sarcasm) and relying on many of the same, tired tropes to convince people that we actually need more guns on the streets; let’s take a look at a few of the more popular ones.
“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
It actually surprises me a lot that people will still say this unironically. Yes, people kill people. And people kill more people when they have firearms to help them. And when firearms are easier for people to get, people who want to kill people can kill people more easily.
“If not guns, then murderers will use knives and bombs and hammers to kill people instead.”
Uhh, ya think? Obviously every life is infinitely valuable (shoutout to my boy Immanuel Kant) but I think we can all agree that a crazed terrorist with a knife or a jar of acid is going to have a harder time killing people than he/she would with an AR-15.
“The only thing stopping a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
So how about we make it harder for the bad guys to get guns? You don’t need good guys with guns if there aren’t bad guys with guns.
“Strict gun control laws don’t work, just look at Chicago.”
True, Illinois has tough gun laws, but people forget that Gary, Indiana is literally right next to Chicago, and Indiana has considerably looser gun laws.
“There is already a ban on automatic weapons.”
And clearly it isn’t working because it’s still quite easy to modify a semi-auto assault rifle to fire in bursts or full-auto, so we should probably make the ban a bit more potent, you would think.
“<insert egregious false equivalency here>”
I’ve actually seen people on Twitter saying bans on things don’t work because we banned drugs and murder and people are still doing those things.
It’s frankly sad to see that people’s viewpoints have been so warped by the media that people who claim to be national security hawks are actually more concerned with curtailing immigration than with gun control. I might remind these people that there have been 11,652 gun-related deaths in the year 2017, according to the Gun Violence Archive. In comparison, that’s about four times the amount of people who died in the September 11th attacks, and over 500 times the amount of people who have died in foreign-based terror attacks since 9/11.
What Will The President Do?
Donald Trump wisely avoided politics in his statement earlier. Politics move slowly so there’s really no need to make political moves today beyond optics, so I’m content with the president just letting the nation catch its breath.
What is extremely interesting, however, is the messaging coming from Breitbart today. They’ve retweeted several people coming out in favor of stronger federal gun control regulations. Gun control policy is an interesting area for Steve Bannon and Breitbart, who are essentially the collective mouthpiece of Trump’s anti-establishment base.
On the one hand, a lot of them swing more libertarian than establishment Republicans, which would make them averse to federal regulation of any industry, particularly the firearms industry. On the other hand, they are considerably more skeptical of big business and its hold on the establishment in both parties than moderates on both sides, and the firearms industry is a PRIME example of iron triangles and corporate control over our politics.
I’m not sure why, but I think Steve Bannon might declare war on the NRA.. If that is the case, our country is going to see a political battle for the ages, since Bannon has many in the anti-establishment, populist movement dancing like marionettes, and the NRA is the second most powerful lobby group in Washington after the AARP. It’s possible that Bannon sees Big Gun as an agent of globalization and really wants to dismantle their hold on American politics via the NRA. It’s also possible that Bannon saw this tragedy as an opportunity to widen the rift between Trump and Republican leadership in Congress.
It is no coincidence that all GOP big wigs in Congress (Paul Ryan, Mike McCarthy, Steve Scalise in the House and Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn in the Senate) have received ‘A’ ratings from the NRA as well as significant campaign contributions. I have no idea how cynical Steve Bannon is, but there is going to be a strong, nationwide call to pass some sort of national gun control legislation, and there is pretty much no way that any of the GOP leadership could let that happen, so it seems like this is all part of Bannon’s master plan to unseat Ryan and McConnell and get his boys on top in Washington.
So, the real question in this scenario is whether Trump sides with his ‘populist base’ or with the GOP establishment. He may be tempted to try to get some more anti-establishment Republicans in Congress, but clashing with the party establishment would seriously gum up the works of the tax reform Trump wants to pass so badly. We also know that Bannon doesn’t love this particular version of tax reform, since he was actually advocating increasing tax rates for some of the wealthiest Americans.
The only thing I can confidently predict at this point is that the rift between the GOP party establishment and the populist base will get wider and more public, which does not bode well for the President’s upcoming legislative agenda. Hopefully we can actually get something done legislatively alongside all of this ridiculous politicking, because we’re a few mass-shootings too late if you ask me.