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Coleman: Avoid Hasty Decisions After Las Vegas Massacre

ABC News
Concert goers in Las Vegas flee as shooter Stephen Paddock unleashes on the crowd below.

There is no mistaking that the massacre in Las Vegas was an act of pure evil. Instead of allowing the country to mourn, politicians and public figures hastily used the incident to push their monotonous gun control narrative. However, legislating regulations on firearms in the immediate wake of Las Vegas would be an egregious mistake for the United States.

Sunday night’s massacre outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel, orchestrated by Stephen Paddock, resulted in 59 dead and 527 wounded innocents. The incident is the bloodiest mass shooting in American history. Once the story hit mainstream news, the hashtag #GunControlNow immediately soared on Twitter. Hillary Clinton tweeted the following message of condolence:

Las Vegas, we are grieving with you—the victims, those who lost loved ones, the responders, & all affected by this cold-blooded massacre”(@HillaryClinton).

Moments later, Clinton followed her heartfelt statement with perhaps the greatest display of opportunism, assailing the National Rifle Association (NRA) by tweeting:

Our grief isn’t enough. We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again” (@HillaryClinton).

Oddly, this comes from the same individual who once told voters about how “her father taught her to shoot and said hunting and shooting were ‘part of our culture’ and ‘a way of life’ in America,” per the Washington Post in 2008. Flip-flop.

The insistence to enact gun control legislation immediately after the massacre is an excellent way to further complicate the already burdensome function of the United States government. Understandably, few would disagree that there are underlying issues that need to be addressed, but that is not the discussion at hand. Rather, it is important to understand that raw emotion does not equate to substantive policy that is well-intentioned and rational.

If some politicians get their way, the United States will quickly arrive at an outright ban on assault rifles. Although this seems sensible in the short run, one wonders what will follow. Several years from now, the next weapon under scrutiny may be handguns, which is a politically unpalatable position at the moment.

There are three considerations that we must fully understand before addressing gun control policies:

1. Paddock’s motive is still unknown.

@brianross: Vegas shooting suspect spent several weeks stockpiling weapons, ammunition; motive still unknown —ABC News (@ABC) October 2, 2017

Without an established criminal record, it is unlikely that Paddock would have been found in violation of any federal policies meant to keep weapons out of the wrong hands. Although ISIS claimed responsibility for the event, there is currently no evidence supporting that statement. Thankfully, Las Vegas Police believe that he acted alone and the Department of Homeland Security has no other information. Unless we know Paddock’s motive, we cannot term this an act of “terror,” regardless of race or color. The term “terrorism” has a legal definition and rushing to judgment convolutes the investigations that must occur. Jumping to conclusions and drafting policy based on unsubstantial information is an incorrect course of action.

2. How Paddock acquired his stockpile is entirely unclear.

The Las Vegas Police Department is reporting that there were 23 firearms recovered at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, and another 19 at the shooter’s home in Mesquite, NV. However, we still do not understand the details surrounding those purchases. Furthermore, at the time of this article, there is no consensus on the weapon he used and/or the modifications made to the rifles. Although some believe he had a fully automatic machine gun — illegal to purchase in the United States — others say that Paddock modified a semi-automatic assault rifle. Before enacting legislation that would ban all assault rifles, we should understand which weapon Paddock used and tailor the policy accordingly. Again, this is not to say that having a private arsenal of 42 firearms is sensible or even necessary; rather, we must understand the facts before drafting legislation that will affect millions of responsible gun owners.

3. Formulating policy based on tragedy is a foolhardy practice.

Regardless of the timing, a rational policy is easily discernible; conversely, enforcing new regulations based on raw emotion leads directly to misinformed decisions. When something horrific happens, liberal figures erupt in unison and demonize the right. Assuredly, there will be those who ask, “How many killings does it take?” Nonetheless, in the interest of the United States, we must prevent lawmakers from using virtue signaling to establish policy. After every mass shooting — including Sandy Hook Elementary School, Orlando, Virginia Tech and Columbine — there is a concerted effort to remove guns entirely. Injecting emotion into the situation could not be a worse idea, as it would lead to heavy-handed policies that do not address the underlying issues.

For the moment, our nation would be better off mourning the victims of Las Vegas. Pray for the families affected, donate blood and remember those who lost their lives. Remain silent until the information is fully gathered. Pushing gun control using raw sentiment is incongruous with the intention of a republic, which is meant to separate emotion from law. Inserting moral righteousness into the situation will only result in a federal policy that does not address the issue properly. Changes need to be made, but now is not the time to make those judgments.

Resources can be donated here, here, and here. Blood can be donated here and here. 

View Comments (15)

Comments (15)

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  • J

    Jordan C.Oct 6, 2017 at 11:32 am

    For the most part, a well-written article. I’ll leave other critiques to stand without any major addition on my part. However, one minor grievance: please don’t use the term “assault rifle”, as it is an erroneous term used to label any gun that appears “frightening”.

  • W

    W.Oct 6, 2017 at 11:31 am

    How is asking to stand up to the NRA opportunism? They are the ones to blame for no gun legislation from the republicans. How is this not an act of terror? because he didn’t fit your profile? The president was quick to label Orlando as terror then called for the total ban of a religion entering the country. But banning assault weapons is not an option? IF anything we should make hasty decisions to prevent this from ever happening again.

  • N

    Nate WestphalOct 5, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Avoid hasty decisions? When will it be time to talk about it? Has enough time passed since Columbine? Sandy Hook? Orlando? San Bernadino?

    Perhaps you shouldn’t make the hasty decision to post a regurgitation of the NRA’s bought-and-sold talking points in circulation to keep selling as many firearms as possible.

  • L

    Laura WolfOct 5, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Hillary’s comment was not flip-flopping: people can enjoy hunting and support common sense gun laws at the same time. Now is still the time to begin attempting to enact gun laws, for the simple fact that we are long overdue. The research available to us agrees that we need stricter laws- not to take away guns from those who use them safely, but to limit the ease at which people carry out mass murders.

  • J

    Joy LombardiOct 5, 2017 at 7:49 am

    Nicolas, we are tired of mourning, praying for and donating blood for victims, and we’ve done plenty of it. The fact that Americans have killed more of their own since 1968 than all of the soldiers killed in every war we’ve been in since the Revolutionary War is appalling and unacceptable. We want action, not more of the same hollow rhetoric that you’re replicating here. Enough is enough! No one needs assault weapons in their daily lives, there should be background checks, not the ability to buy immediately at gun shows. Our forefathers could not have foreseen what the Second Amendment has wrought, but would likely be aghast at the consequences.

  • J

    JackOct 5, 2017 at 7:08 am

    Although I generally agree with the arguments presented here, I don’t think that Clinton really can be blamed for “flip flopping” on the issue. That statement cited was made was 9 years ago, and it seems like we’ve seen an uptick in brazen attacks by lone wolf shooters since then. She very well may still think that guns are a fundamental right, but increased regulation of their sale and distribution doesn’t mean that the right will be revoked.

  • A

    AshleyOct 4, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    I would beg you to understand that although this very day might not be the day we achieve a better system for preventing situations like this (or other shootings, of which we have a better understanding of motive) from occurring, that such logic is exactly what allows for this kind of tragedy to keep happening: “Now is not the time.”
    As has been referenced by others, after a major tragedy is exactly when we should be evaluating and acting on what we can improve to make sure it never happens again. When a major event happens in a hospital, review and reform immediately follows so as to address the problem and prevent future repeats from happening (e.g. deaths, falls, infections). As Jimmy Kimmel mentioned the other night, when majorly fatal fires happened in Las Vegas, review occurred and changes were made to the fire codes and that has kept people safe from the same danger repeating.
    Some may ask, if not now, when? Would you feel differently if your loved ones had been slaughtered?

  • S

    studentOct 4, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    What a biased and insensitive article. this article is shoving conservative gun loving narrative on campus. NO one should be allowed to have assault rifles and ak-47s in this country. “thoughts and prayers’ have done absolutely nothing for mass shootings but normalize this. this could have easily been prevented if this country followed places like Australia. We need action from Washington NOW. and this needs to be politicized because it keeps happening. how many people have to die before the GOP creates better laws instead of the NRA funding millions to keep them silent. the least you could have done is put this under ‘opinion’

    • J

      Jordan C.Oct 6, 2017 at 11:30 am

      As if there aren’t other articles that “shove” liberal, far-left narratives on campus? Please.

  • M

    MikeOct 4, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    How do you feel about “heavy handed” and “virtue signaling” republican policies on abortion. I’m sure you’re in favor of those.

    • J

      Jordan C.Oct 6, 2017 at 11:29 am

      Here’s the difference: abortion is murder. We believe murder should be illegal in both cases, and it already is when dealing with guns. We don’t want to ban the forceps abortion doctors use, we want the act of ending a human life to be illegal across the board. Owning a firearm does not end life. Neither do forceps. The act of using those in a way to end life is the issue. Guess how many lives were ended by abortion in the U.S. last year? A hell of a lot more than those ended by firearms.

  • M

    MikeOct 4, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    Why would any civilian need a high frequency, high efficiency killing machine designed for military use. When the 2nd amendment was written, it took nearly a minute or more between individual bullet fires. You had to stuff each bullet down the barrel, individually, with a frigging stick. The shooter in Vegas was firing at 400+ bullets per minute, 6+ per SECOND. A hasty decision is writing up this email to defend a conservative viewpoint, when the only effective use of the weapons under discussion are to destroy objects on ranges and HUMAN lives in real worlds. They have no other meaningful purpose. Crazies will always seek the weapons out. Making the military grade rapid-fire ones unavailable is the only way to prevent this. Your article is ignorant. Ignorant of the facts already available regarding shootings in other developed countries and ignorant of the NRA and gun industry $ spent lobbying for Republican support. Tragedies like this show the real risks and worst-case scenarios to be realized when sensible regulations are not in place. “Don’t talk about climate change after a hurricane. Don’t talk about gun laws after a horrific shooting with assault rifles. Talk about it later when people aren’t INCENSED anymore”. NO, we should talk about it when it’s relevant and when people are listening.

    • G

      GavinOct 6, 2017 at 10:10 pm

      Dear genius,

      Since you obviously get your facts from misinformed media with an agenda of their own, let me educate you. As the NRA has a lot of influence with republican lawmakers, they still serve the American people. We are the ones that put them into office and re elect them into office. Shooting for sport and hunt are long traditions held up by our American culture. 45% of households in America own guns. 3.5 million Americans are members of the NRA. The NRA represents its members the same way planned parenthood represents their demographic. And I guarantee PP has claimed far more lives than NRA lobbying efforts have, but Democrats don’t like to talk about that. They use mass shootings as platforms for their agenda’s, rather than sparing half a minute to mourn for a country in pain. Their view on human life is dismal, so don’t be fooled.

      This brings me to point number 2. When our founding fathers drafted the second amendment, it was to ensure that we would never have to face an oppressive government without means of defense. As I don’t see this happening, Nick makes a good point. They criminalize AR’s then handguns, until they come to the decision that the American people aren’t capable of owning guns and defending themselves in a civil way.

      Automatic weapons are already illegal and have been for years. Bump stocks have been under scrutiny by both democrats and republicans and the NRA has come out in support of legislation against them after this shooting. Don’t rob law abiding Americans from doing something they love just because the media tells you that’s what’s popular at the moment. You’re a sheep. You re gurgitate the same shallow argument that every left wing SJW makes on why people shouldn’t have guns, when you’ve probably never shot one in your life.

  • R

    RyanOct 4, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    Your second point is wrong. There is a pretty clear consensus that the majority if not all of his weapons were legally purchased. Photos from the hotel room show that at least one assault style weapons were equipped with a bump stock, a legal modification which converts a semi-automatic weapon to simulate automatic fire. The firing rate from the videos is consistent with the rate that a bump stock would enable.

  • A

    AnonymousOct 4, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    The term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—
    (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
    (B) appear to be intended—
    (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
    (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
    (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
    (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
    (Legal Information Institute)
    Paddock, by direct definition, committed an act of domestic terrorism… You stated that he did not have an established criminal record but that is anything but reassuring… why is the fact that we don’t a motive relevant to deciding gun laws? This man was invisible to government and he got away with the deadliest massacre in the history of the US. That is definitely a cause for concern. Yes, gun-policy is a tricky issue, yes, it is divisive, no, hasty decisions should not be made about it but I have no idea why Paddocks “unknown” motives should stop congress or just the people of the United states from discussing what we should do about guns.