An adult, civilised society does not consider it necessary for a private citizen to own an assault rifleby Stephanie Boland / October 2, 2017 / Leave a comment
And so we have news of another mass act of violence. In Las Vegas, we hear, a man has opened fire from a hotel window into a vast crowd of concert-goers, killing over 50 and injuring more than 400. “We heard what sounded like firecrackers going off,” one woman told MSNBC, adding that as she ran off, there were “probably a couple hundred [people] on the ground.”
The police have named their suspect as Stephen Paddock, a “local man” aged 64. He is believed to have checked into the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in late September. We don’t yet know what might have gone through the head of our suspect, but we do know what was in his hands: Paddock, the police say, had an “excess of ten rifles” in his hotel room.
In the state of Nevada, background checks are now carried out when people buy guns. That this was a big win for the anti-gun lobby is shocking in and of itself; that new, universal background check measures, approved by voters in January, have been put on hold “indefinitely” after they were designated unenforceable is the sort of fact that ought to make right-thinking people wince.
No permit is required to purchase a firearm in the state, and firearms do not need to be registered there. “It is legal to carry openly or concealed inside a casino,” says one, bleakly hilarious sentence on the website nevadacarry.org. “Most casinos will ask you to leave . . . but it is not a crime unless you refuse to leave or comply (only trespassing).”
We might wonder whether a culture in which it is possible for a man to hole up in a hotel room with ten rifles and not be previously known to police—to not have traceable criminal ties, or a system somewhere with a pop-up saying hey, just thought I’d let you know, Sarge, there is a man who owns ten guns in big, red, flashing letters—is, in fact, a deeply broken culture.
In fact, I’d argue that a culture which believes a private citizen ought to be allowed to own one assault weapon is a broken culture. In the chilling words of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence: “Assault weapons are designed…