UPDATED 10/18/6:26 a.m. PDT: More than two weeks after the mass shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 country music fans dead and hundreds more injured, one haunting – and daunting – question remains unanswered: Why?
According to a story that appeared in the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, “investigators are no closer to understanding the gunman’s motives.” The story has been picked up by several news agencies and was originally written by a Los Angeles Times reporter.
One psychologist quoted in the story, Charles R. Figley at Tulane University’s Trumatology Institute in New Orleans, had this observation: “People make up stuff. That’s why we pray and ask God to protect us, to make sure that good people don’t get hurt. We start constructing explanations that at least make us feel better.”
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Since the shooting, there have been enough conspiracy theories to fill a small library. The disappearance of the security guard who was reportedly wounded hasn’t helped calm the crowd, either.
UPDATE: Security Guard Jesus Campos is no longer missing. He’s shown up on the “Ellen” Show, according to the Los Angeles Times. His story should interest people who are still trying to understand what happened and why.
But buried near the end of the story there is the almost obligatory finger of blame pointed at “guns and a culture that puts ‘ridiculous firepower’ in virtually anyone’s hands.” Such assertions are virtually as predictable as November rain in Seattle.
This time it came from Dr. David Spiegel, a psychiatrist at Stanford University.
“As a psychiatrist, I deeply resent the inference that anybody who does something like this is mentally ill. It’s untrue and deeply unfair to people with mental illness.”—Dr. David Spiegel, Stanford University
“Finally, Spiegel warns, when people reflexively accept a ‘mental illness’ explanation for mass shootings, they are playing into the hands of the gun rights advocates who would foil any effort to stem the tide of weapons in America,” the story reported.
But wait. Firearms are strictly controlled across Europe, but in Paris in November 2015, terrorists staged three coordinated attacks and killed 130 people, including 89 at a concert.
In Nice eight months later, a man drove a huge cargo truck through a crowd, killing 86 people and injuring more than 450 others.
In Manchester, England this past May, a suicide bomber killed 22 concert-goers and injured 120 more.
Mass mayhem doesn’t require guns, it isn’t stopped by strict gun laws, and people determined to create havoc will figure a way to do it, even if they use a pressure cooker.
Dr. Spiegel’s explanation may not really explain anything, and he’s hardly the only person who has pointed to guns as part of the problem.
“But what’s really chilling,” he said, “is that no matter where you go or what you do, there’s a coldblooded guy with a gun who could take you out.”
Or maybe a cold-blooded guy with a knife, car, truck or homemade bomb; all of these have been used in recent memory to create great harm.
Still, none of this explains what Stephen Paddock did in Las Vegas on the night of Oct. 1. Tens of millions of people own lots of guns and haven’t harmed anyone. Until that question is answered, there will probably be more conspiracy theories, more blame-the-gun explanations and they won’t tell us any more than is already known.