Las Vegas Shooting Question

I know we’re going to be swamped with articles and thoughts on this horrific shooting. Normally I don’t post about things like this because there are a lot of people out there who can say things much better.

But I was just there with my family. I got home last week.

We stood crammed shoulder to shoulder with strangers in the heat of the night in front of the Bellagio watching the hotel’s water show. The Strip was packed with cars inching along. The sidewalks were so full of people it was difficult to stay together in the family pack. And at the time I wondered why there’d been no mass shooting there. It was a scary thought because in looking around, I realized this. There was nowhere to go.

I had to forcibly turn off those thoughts. Tell myself ‘it won’t happen here’. Turn back to the family and all the laughter.

You never think it will happen to you.

I know politicians are now going to get their names out there by talking up for and against changes to gun laws. Once again they will spout opinions on both sides of the argument until the shooting is no longer in the news. Then those politicians will go back to whatever else they can come up with to keep their names in the public eye.

But here’s the question I keep asking that I want answered. Isn’t there anyone versed in society, some therapist, some anthropologist, someone, who can tell me this?

Why is it almost always men?

I know there are the rare female mass-murderers or serial killers. But the key word there is ‘rare’. I also know that those who rush in to save people are also mostly men, although there are a lot more female police offers than there used to be. I know my friends who are police officers would head straight into the line of fire, without thinking about it, if we were in danger. So this isn’t a post about hating men or making generalizations.

Yet, I think of news photos after disasters when people are looting, burning cars, etc. It’s almost always men, and most often young men in their twenties.

Why?

Maybe instead of listening to useless politicians gain their five minutes of fame by spouting off how they want to change, or not change, gun laws, we should have someone stepping up to explain this.

Because maybe, if we can figure out the ‘why’, we can figure out an actual solution.

So someone, please tell me why you think this is. Otherwise we’re all going to continue having our hearts broken as those we love are gunned down in senseless mass shootings.

8 thoughts on “Las Vegas Shooting Question

  1. Thank you for posting this! I’m so happy that there are others out there that are asking the same question I have had in my mind. Why? No changes to any laws are going to help unless we answer that question. You worded this perfectly!

  2. I think one of the answers you’ll get to your questions is that men are (thanks to testosterone) more aggressive than women. While there is truth in that, I believe the issues are far more complex and have as much to do with culture as it does physiology. You ask several different, although related, questions — and bring up several different, although related points. I believe that the impulse to inflict pain (to be aggressive toward someone) is distinct from the impulse to rush into danger in order to save or protect. I also believe that the inclination to protect is equally represented in men and women. It can be subverted to turn “us” against “them” by vilifying “them” so “we” must protect ourselves by being aggressive. However, this isn’t what you’re talking about in regards to the murders in Las Vegas. To find out why this man felt it necessary to do what he did won’t solve the problem. It may help us construct future road blocks to this kind of behavior, but the truth is that there are 7 billion people in this world and even if we could determine the exact cause of this behavior, we would never be able to monitor that many people closely enough to intercept the next mass killer. As I see it, the only solution is to make that kind of behavior more difficult to do. By that I mean stricter gun laws and other laws that would make it hard to get hold of the means to inflict pain, misery and death. Training people who are in positions to spot dangerous behavior would help, too — and not just police, but people who are in contact with the public (like hotel personnel, etc). Changing how our culture views aggressive behavior and how our culture responds to people who need mental health help might be useful, although cultural change is often a slow and painful process. The end result… I don’t have any answers, and I’m no expert. One thing I do know: this will happen again.

    • Great points Susan. I have no hope that changes in gun laws will make any impact though. If they become too hard to obtain legally, they’ll be obtained illegally. There are simply too many already out there. Which is not to say that I don’t want changes to gun laws. I’m just not sure what form those changes should make, however. Marguerite’s comments about what Australia has done though, should be looked at closer by our politicians. Not that I have hope they will. As you know, I own a gun, and believe me, it was not easy to obtain. And my owning a gun does not make me a gun-crazy nut or one of those spouting ‘it’s my constitutional right!’. I own a gun because I live in the woods and have way too many encounters with dangerous critters. I still feel the underlying issues, and my question, can help. Additionally, how can we be trained to spot more subtle dangerous behavior (something other than simply leaving a backpack behind) when we don’t understand what causes that dangerous behavior? Similar, maybe, to profiling. And if we were trained, how would that have changed what happened in Las Vegas? That man carried luggage into a hotel, like millions of people do, like we did last week. Nothing dangerous in that. Nothing that would have triggered a response. I think these are signs of underlying societal and cultural issues and if that was understood more fully maybe change could begin at the ground level. Like you said, I have no answers either. But debates like this, and the other responses I’m getting just in this blog, give me hope that people are thinking and working toward some kind of change. I guess, having worked for the mental health field many years ago, makes me want to know ‘why’ on a deeper level than simply ‘why this particular man’. Because we know that unless something does change, there’s going to be another ‘why that particular man’.

      • I have read about Australia’s gun laws and the results, and the results speak for themselves. In the US, those cities that have enforced stricter gun laws have seen a significant reduction in gun-related deaths. The man in Las Vegas (he doesn’t deserve to have his name mentioned!), had 28 weapons in his hotel room — not 28 little handguns, but some that required a tripod (according to the sheriff’s interview). He had, also, more than 1000 rounds of ammunition. In addition he had more weaponry in his home. He brought 10 suitcases into his hotel room (who travels with that kind of luggage?) and bomb making material in his vehicle. I think it’s a fair assumption to say there was behavior being demonstrated prior to the attack that indicated a problem. People missed it. In my opinion, family missing things doesn’t count because family seems to be particularly blind and inclined to denial.

        This is a huge topic. I know enough about it to say that research has been done and is being done on violent crime, and that there are major obstacles in the way of doing that research and then acting on it. That needs to change. Gun laws need to change, too. No one needs the kind of weaponry that man had.

      • All good points yet again. Though, having just come back from Vegas, I saw people with huge mounds of luggage and would have given this person no second glance. I saw one guy who filled the entire elevator with his luggage and I wondered at the time where his family was to help. And he wasn’t the only one. I saw women with so much shit that I wondered why they brought their whole house with them on vacation. So I’ll have to disagree that seeing someone with a ton of luggage, especially in Vegas, would have tripped any alarms at the time. Now, after the fact, I’m sure it will be different. And there was one woman who was taking her luggage up in stages because she had so much. The rest waited in an unattended pile near the elevators. I watched her make three trips up and back to move it all.

  3. I like reading your posts but can’t let this pass without comment.
    It is a strange American fallacy that changing gun laws won’t change what happens. Your country has appalling gun violence statistics that are so far out of sync with the rest of the first world that one can only shake one’s head at the continuing love affair with guns.
    When Sandy Hook happened Australians commented that finally the US would be sufficiently appalled to follow what our Government did after our mass killing at Port Arthur. It looked the gun lobby in the eye, withstood its rage, and banned small military style weapons, all automatic and semi-automatic firearms. Private ownership of hand guns is illegal, except in exceptional circumstances. Recreational hunting is, however, still widely practised throughout Australia, but without automatic or semi automatic rifles. All privately owned guns must be registered, and owners must be licensed after a minimum 30 day waiting period. All firearms that are privately approved must be kept in a locked steel safe, approved and inspected by the Police.
    Of course, violent criminals still smuggle guns into the country, but the level of gun deaths has dropped markedly and most people would have trouble finding an illegal gun. For example, at the recent Lindt terrorist siege in Sydney, Australia, all the terrorist could buy (and on the black market, at that) was an old double barrelled shotgun, and that cost him $2000. One person died from his shooting and one died from police fire when the building was stormed. If the shooter had access to the sorts of assault rifles that are readily available in the US, the death toll almost certainly would have been higher.
    Instead of looking at the rest of the world, America seemed to shrug off Sandy Hook and some despicable elements in society even pretended it didn’t happen. Children assassinated? Unbelievable.
    Of course, the issues of why men are more likely to kill like this is somewhat important. But it’s in no way the most important. Are you really suggesting that this is just about men? If so, are American men so different from Australian men? I don’t think so.
    In my view, there is absolutely no justification for assault rifles, or other style military weapons, being available to civilians.

    • Thanks for taking the time to respond so fully. I appreciate respectful debates. And you’re so very right that changes in gun laws would have impact. However, American politicians historically, as you also pointed out, do nothing, even when children are involved. The issue of guns comes up every time something like this happens, but it’s used more as a political platform for elections than anything else, and there’s never any change. So we become jaded regarding our politicians. Another good point you raise is that this is not men in every country. I should have clarified my questions to say ‘American’ men because here, it is clearly a problem. Which makes my question even more pointed – why American men? And again, I’ll repeat that this isn’t a man-hater question, or a blanket generalization, like I mentioned in the post. But your comments make it an even more valid question. Why here? Why these particular men? Someday we might be able to solve this problem by changing access, for these men, to guns. But with the politicians we have, I sadly don’t see that happening in my lifetime. Thanks again for the opportunity to discourse together.

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