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.

By Nicholas Coleman

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.

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