Photo by Hilary Swift for The New York Times
What happened in Las Vegas is terrible but not surprising. A man with a disturbed and evil soul has set the new record that was previously held by another evil person in Orlando, Florida since June 2016. And someone in the future will surpass the number killed and injured and yet create another new record. This “record” is part of a macabre trend that the National Threat Assessment Center, part of the United States Secret Service, identified in a study on mass murders in American schools conducted in 2002. There we learned and quantified much of what we know about “active shooters” today. At the same time, the media sets new records for ignorance, poor taste, and “breaking news” agendas. Politicians, including one mean, arrogant woman who came close to becoming president, push hard with their own self-serving agendas and set new benchmark lows for stupidity and cruelty. In some aspects our culture is devolving. We spent much of the summer watching rallies and protests (riots) as groups bullied schools, churches, and local governments to tear down statues and symbols of culture and history. In doing so they are attempting to re-write our history. Challenge them and you are a racist. Point out empirical facts to counter their emotional anecdotes and you are a hate-monger. Again, they have an agenda. When we will burn books (again) and who will choose which books will go first?
The speculations and hallucinations surrounding Las Vegas are pretty much the same as always. As days go by and more information is released the picture changes. I mean no disrespect to those who have suffered loss or who are in pain. We will all continue to suffer losses as long as we continue to have the same arguments, behave in the same disrespectful ways, blame the same inanimate objects, use the same cliches, propose the same useless legislation, and expect for there to be a different result – this is Einstein’s definition of insanity. A firearm is not a weapon; it is a tool. I AM THE WEAPON and what I put into my hands is simply a tool I use to extend my will. I can extend my will for justice or for evil. While we sit back and bicker about “assault rifles,” magazine capacities, bump-fire stocks, silencers or suppressors, registration or confiscation, legally versus illegally obtained firearms, was it an act of terrorism or not according to the FBI definition, why no one noticed cameras or strange behaviors when room service was delivered to the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, or how he got so many rifles into his room unnoticed, consider this – a better trained marksman with that number of rifles, the quantity of ammunition, and a high ground platform over a crowd of 30,000 people could have affected more than the 60 killed and 500 injured. And we don’t yet know what the 500 injuries were or what they were from, gunfire, a stampede, or a scratch from bumping into a wall – the media only wants numbers. Just firing into the crowd may have yielded more misses than hits, so while horrible, it could have been even worse had he been more skilled in his delivery and attack. Only time and the official investigation will tell as facts are discovered and shared. But one thing is certain that everyone needs to come to grips with…the next event to make Las Vegas pale in comparison is being planned right now!
All events like these begin with extensive preplanning and intelligence gathering. It would be great if we could stop every event but that does not seem likely. We are so divided as a nation in our behaviors and beliefs and many of our elected leaders cannot even behave in a civil, ethical, or appropriate way. (St. Louis Senator Chappelle-Nadal publicly suggesting our president’s assassination…really?) Our liberty and freedom involve a balance of our rights and security. We can give up more personal rights in order for more perceived security, presumably provided by more government, but I don’t want that. I don’t want to shift our republic based upon democratic principles to another form of government. There are smarter, more productive things we can do first such as to become more situationally aware, learn to notice things, and to speak up. We can trust our gut when our “spidey senses” tingle or something doesn’t seem quite right. I will say it again – “It’s not all about the guns.” My carrying a pistol and a go-bag would mean little in a situation like Las Vegas. Having an evacuation plan, as well as a plan B, would initially be more useful than my pistol or tourniquet. Knowing basic medical procedures is very worthwhile. Being able to keep myself under control in a time of extreme duress and share actionable intelligence with professional responders would be useful. I’m sure there were many good people in Las Vegas who did things like this.
I don’t accept these attacks as being normal, but it seems they are a part of our culture that is here to stay for awhile. Until we get real in dealing with organized criminal and hate groups such as “Black Lives Matter” and Antifa, civil disorder will continue to threaten our communities and decorum of civilized life. And let’s call people who commit crimes in groups what they actually are: rioters and criminals. They are not “protesters” lawfully exercising their Constitutional rights. They are bugs wearing masks to hide their identity, and bugs should be swatted, sprayed, or squashed. The more we allow this to continue the stronger the message we send to ALL criminals including those who plan an incident of mass murder like Las Vegas. We send the message that we are weak and afraid. Premeditated acts of this nature, even on a smaller scale, are occurring weekly and they have been since the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass murder in December 2012. Once the first shot is fired and the “stopwatch of death” begins, the evil one knows their time is limited in executing their plan. In the majority of cases, when the murderer thinks they have gone as far as they can go, they kill themselves. Rarely are they prepared to duke it out with police or someone with training and resolve – but this may change. Occasionally the media will mention a smaller incident where someone intervenes and
stops the murderer. Current and future criminals need to see that we will not just hide and wait for the police. You play a stupid game and you will win a stupid prize from someone right next to you like math teacher Angela McQueen from Mattoon High School in Illinois on September 20, 2017. When an idiot with a rifle opened fire in the school cafeteria, she tacked him and held him down while he was still shooting and limited the number of people shot to only one, and that student will recover (Right on Angela!) Attacks like these occur each day and we can make an immediate difference just as Angela McQueen did. When something like Las Vegas happens we can simply do the best that we can with what we have until the right tools arrive. What happened in Las Vegas certainly warranted a tactical response and I am NOT saying that the general citizenry is up to that type of challenge…yet. People in Las Vegas did exactly what they needed to do…they used Nike Ju-Jitsu – they ran!
Realize that there are other ways to attack large groups of people when someone with the requisite knowledge base and access to their tool of choice decides to make a plan and attempt to carry it out. We will begin seeing this more in the future just as Israel did when firearm “terror” attacks ceased being effective as citizens became armed and trained. Even if those who believe in more laws and restrictions could wave a magic wand and remove all guns (or bump-stocks) from the face of the earth, there remain many ways to terrorize large groups of people such as with flammable and corrosive liquids, poisons made at home with grocery store chemicals, garden sprayers, ventilation system attacks, commercial and homemade explosives, or even a truck driven through a crowd – these are a few of the possibilities. All you have to do is look at a stadium, concert arena, school, church, mall, county fair, graduation or prom…and think like a bad guy. Decide what tool may work for your mass-murderous plan. Take your time. Make notes, maps, and equipment lists. Use the internet. Then engineer in reverse. Conduct site visits and walk-throughs. Not a difficult task, but quite uncomfortable and disturbing to fathom. New example: if you have not heard of carfentanyl, click on it and see what is happening in Ohio and has all emergency responders taking new safety measures. (And if you hold the real drug in your hand like the reporter is doing with a simulated substance, you will die!)
There will be much more to learn in coming days about what happened in Las Vegas. There are things we can do to “harden the target.” We can have intelligent discussions. We can learn. We can prepare. We can prevent and we can train to respond ourselves. But we must remember that while disengagement is rarely wrong, running away is not a defense. Remember that the goal and purpose of terrorism is to terrorize; to make us limit and change our way of life, to make our cages smaller. I choose to live my life and seek out the joy I can share with my family and friends. I owe it to myself and my family and I choose to be prepared for game day. And how do I prepare? Well I guess that’s the real question, isn’t it? Each of us will have to answer that one for ourselves. Just remember what Rush sang in “Freewill”, “If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice!”
“This is the law. The purpose for fighting is to win. The sword is mightier than the shield, and skill is more important than either. The brain is the ultimate weapon. All else is supplemental.” John Steinbeck.
Psalm 144:1 – “Blessed be the Lord, my rock, Who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.”