The Corner

Law & the Courts

Based on the Early Reports, the Las Vegas Shooting Is Very, Very Strange

Before I begin, let me clearly state two things. First, as I note in the title of this post, my observations are based on early reports, and early reports are often wrong. Second, do not read this post as implying any sort of conspiracy theory of any kind. I’m merely noting the facts as we currently understand them — and how they differ from recent mass shootings.

As virtually everyone has noted from the abundant video footage of the incident, it certainly sounds as if the shooter used either fully-automatic weapons or semi-automatic weapons modified (through, for example, a bump fire stock) to closely simulate automatic fire. Moreover, the police are reporting that he had “more than 10 rifles.” He apparently rented his corner room for days and may have even set up cameras to detect when police were approaching. That’s all strange enough, but it’s even more unusual when you consider that his own family apparently didn’t know that he maintained a stockpile of guns. Here’s this, from the gunman’s brother, suggesting that the gunman wasn’t an avid gun guy at all:

Finally, it looks like the shooter did indeed use “at least one fully automatic rifle,” which of course raises the question of how he obtained such a weapon. Purchase? Modification? Could it be a weapon his father owned? We’re only scratching the surface of a sad and horrible story. 

FINAL UPDATE: The Washington Post has published a well-reported profile of the shooter, and while it provides a more-complete picture of an evil man, it doesn’t help us understand his motive. He was the multimillionaire son of a notorious bank robber. He had no known history of mental illness, there’s no record of radical politics, and he had no criminal history. It looks like his first crime was the worst mass murder in American history, and ISIS is still trying to take credit for his attack. These facts are unique, to say the least. 

Hopefully, the next few days will bring clarity. They may even render the shooter somehow more “normal” and explainable. For now, however, a dark and terrible day ends in confusion. We know what happened. We just don’t know why. 

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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