Stephen Paddock, the 64-year old alleged gunman of Sunday's Las Vegas massacre, may indeed have acted alone when he carried out the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. But he is by no means the only one with blood on his hands. To the contrary, the responsibility is shared by those who have placed the profits of the small arms industry above the health, safety and very lives of our citizenry...
Those with blood on their hands include the five right-wing members of the United States Supreme Court who opened the door to a radical, out-of-control guns uber alles culture, by ignoring precedent, history and basic rules in their narrow 5-4 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), in order to erect an "individual" right to bear arms...
As observed by Justice John Paul Stevens in his compelling dissent in Heller:
Those with blood on their hands also include the propaganda arm of the small weapons industry, aka the "terrorist-enabling National Rifle Association" (NRA), along with their bought-and-paid-for disproportionately Republican members of Congress, who have rejected the more than one hundred (100) gun control proposals introduced since 2011. The rejected Democratic proposals include a 2016 measure that would have restored the federal 1994 Assault Weapons Ban which expired in 2004. (In 2016, the Supreme Court upheld Maryland's own assault weapons ban, but many states do not have such bans).
Responsibility is also shared by many state legislators and governors. In Nevada, individuals can acquire an unlimited number of firearms, including "assault weapons, .50-caliber rifles or large-capacity ammunition magazines...Open carry is legal without a permit," Newsweek reports, even as toy guns are banned on the streets of Las Vegas.
"How in God's name did this shooter get, we're told, 20 rifles into that [Mandalay Bay] hotel room, without attracting any untoward attention for doing it?" MSNBC's Rachel Maddow rhetorically asked. The answer, she asserted, can be found in the fact that Las Vegas is ground zero for our out-of-control gun culture where there's an everything's for sale gun show almost every weekend.
The problem, of course, is by no means limited to Nevada. With 59 dead and 527 wounded, the Las Vegas Massacre was the worst mass killing in U.S. history. Yet it was also the 273rd U.S. mass shooting that occurred in the first 275 days of 2017 --- a near daily carnage that has left 11,652 dead and another 23,513 wounded, according to GunViolenceArchive.org
It could get worse before it gets better.
For those of who have served in the military, it is not all that difficult to imagine the damage wrought if, as was perfectly legal in Las Vegas, Paddock had carted a couple of .50 caliber machine guns up to his room. And one shutters to think what would have occurred if the heavily armed, right-wing extremists who descended upon Charlottesville, like an invading army, took it upon themselves to open fire on the unarmed, anti-fascist counter-protestors.
If we are to restore safety and sanity, we must reject the NRA and their absurd --- and deadly --- gun culture.
Ernest A. Canning is a retired attorney, author, Vietnam Veteran (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968) and a Senior Advisor to Veterans For Bernie. He has been a member of the California state bar since 1977. In addition to a juris doctor, he has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science. Follow him on twitter: @cann4ing