White Men and their Guns

By Andrej Mrevlje |

This is a short note on the horrific killing in Las Vegas, where 64-year-old Stephen Paddock moved into the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, together with his 23 guns, and three days later killed 59 and injured around 500 people. Apparently, he needed about 11 suitcases to move his arsenal into the suite. He probably was cleaning and oiling his guns before he arranged them on the tables in front of the two windows that covered the area of the concerts, where country music played to 22,000 people packed into the square at the moment of the massacre. Even on that night, Paddock did not need to aim his guns, he was studying and rehearsing how to kill as many people as possible in the shortest time. Paddock was evil, but he was not crazy; he was scientific in everything he did. How he set security cameras outside of his suite and in the lock of the door tells you that Paddock had a method. He was almost as meticulous as the murderer of the JFK.

As back then, there are many unresolved questions that remain. How is it possible to transport eleven suitcases of weaponry into a hotel, without being noticed? How is it possible that for three days, nobody noticed that his suite was full of guns? And just to make the list short, how is it possible that a week after the massacre, we know so little about the motive and the killer?

It almost seems like a massive cover-up, as the whole nation talks about the tragedy as if the killing in Las Vegas was some sort of natural calamity and not a vile act caused by the stupidity of itself in allowing people to buy and to sell guns as if they were hamburgers, with great ease. Even hamburgers now have more scrutiny because of increasing concern about the effect of red meat on our health. But not guns–nobody discusses guns–and when they kill, they do so in the name of constitutionally protected rights, namely the second amendment. And when massacres happen, more and more, the nation has ready a ritualized response, as Ryan Lizza describes in The New Yorker.

Why? Paddock was a white man who took his life after he killed so many others. Las Vegas was not some kind of racist attack. Country music is loved by the white Americans. Did Paddock know that? Why did he kill so many and in such a scientific way? As said, the massive killing was not a racist act, it was a murder. If the massacre was inherently racist in the sense that white men in this country can collect so freely such an amount of guns without being questioned, then despite the race of his victims, America must confront the racial element involved.

I sometimes wonder if the NRA, who obviously promote the production and the free sales of guns, have their own men planted among the people who investigate the killings. Had anyone ever checked this out?

But all these questions, including wondering how this latest mass murder was possible to execute in such a protected and surveilled area, come to nothing when we ask the fundamental question: why is America letting this happen? To find an answer, here we would have to call a psychoanalyst, a disciplined one, not just one who takes the money of stressed New Yorkers.

Perhaps, in the end, there is a parallel between an Italian who is unaware he lives in the remnants of fascism. There are, as we know, over 300 million pieces of private weaponry circulating in this country and there’s no control over it. The guns in circulation are not hunting guns, or Civil War-era guns inherited from great-grandfathers. They are all modern weapons. They are fast and precise — manufactured for killing people quickly. Many of them are assault weapons. They are in the hands of private citizens, and as President Obama once said, they are easier to obtain than a driving license.
And, as in Italy, as this interesting piece observes, where fascist monuments will never leave the streets, Americans will never separate from their guns: “The fascist symbols never went away, and where the monuments are treated merely as depoliticized aesthetic objects, the far right can harness the ugly ideology while everyone else becomes inured. As Rosalia Vittorini, the head of Italy’s chapter of the preservationist organization Docomomo, once said when asked how Italians feel about living among relics of dictatorship: “Why do you think they think anything at all about it?”    

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