I am rather wandering of my usual topics here but I am increasingly fascinated by the news reports on Stephen Paddock.
The facts are these – a wealthy 64-year old retired accountant was able to kill 58 innocent victims and wound a staggering 489 people. The police are devoting a lot of time to trying to work out what his motives were and how he organised it. This is really a complete waste of time given that his horrendous deeds have already been played out – unless, of course, they are able to find other individuals who are implicated, but at this stage it seems unlikely.
What the focus should be on is how is a system in place that allows one individual to buy 30 guns in one year. Under federal law, gun stores are required to report multiple handgun purchases to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives but not multiple rifle purchases.
According to one commentator, David Chipman, a former ATF special agent and senior policy adviser at Americans for Responsible Solutions, which advocates for stricter gun rules, in a USA Today report, “The lack of notification for multiple rifle purchases creates a loophole where people can stockpile assault weapons, similar in design to those used by the military and police SWAT teams, with little federal detection”.
In addition, Paddock was able to purchase a bump stock – these can be purchased by the public and allows a gun owner to fire semi-automatic weapons nearly as fast as fully-automatic ones, without government oversight. According to Clark County Sheriff, Joe Lombardo, the police also discovered several containers of explosives and 1,600 rounds of additional ammunition in his car.
So, this begs the question – in what other country could such purchases take place and the answer: only in the USA. Is this situation likely to change in the near future – no, because Trump is the NRA’s man. He secured the endorsement of the National Rifle Association in May 2016 during his campaign, and according to a BBC article (2.10.2017),
“From then on Mr Trump – in his statements and on his campaign website – largely echoed the NRA’s hard line on firearm issues. The group would end up spending more than $30m (£22m) to support Mr Trump’s presidential bid. During the election campaign, Mr Trump attacked Democrat Hillary Clinton as being in favour of stringent gun control and pledged that he was the candidate that would protect the rights of the estimated 55 million Americans who currently own firearms … Mr Trump’s only significant action on guns as president has been to sign a law rolling-back Obama-era limitations on the ability of those being treated for mental illness to purchase firearms.”
So, let’s not have any more talk in the media about Stephen Paddock’s motives as this is entirely pointless. There will be more individuals like him who will commit similar atrocities as long as the status quo on gun purchases remains in place. In Europe, a psychopathic individual like Paddock would not be able to get his hands on such weaponry, and so would have to resort to a knife or similar implement and the damage would be far more limited.
Wake up America – those of you who want to maintain your right to bear arms (among which you can count your President) should not indulge in hypocritical grieving over massacres like these of your fellow countrymen.
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