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Las Vegas massacre brings focus back on gun control laws in US

Former first lady Hillary Clinton and former vice president Joe Biden have urged the government to stand up to the gun lobby after America’s worst ever mass shooting.

world Updated: Oct 03, 2017 10:01 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Las Vegas mass shooting,Gun control laws,Gun lobby
Police at the scene of a shooting near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip, Sunday where a lone gunman shot and killed at least 59 people who were attending a music concert. (AP)

As the United States struggles to come to terms with the deadliest mass shooting, it finds itself confronting questions once again about its gun control laws: the shooter had 42 firearms in all — 23 in his hotel room from where he shot and killed 59 people and wounded 527, and 19 at home.

Law enforcement officials who burst into his room, found Stephen Craig Paddock, the 64-year-old shooter dead from a self-inflicted wound. A search of his room, car and home revealed a mini-arsenal the likes of which have not been reported from any of recent mass shootings.

His motives remained unclear 24 hours after he opened fire on an outdoor country music festival that was about to end with the last act of the three-day event with singer Jason Aldean on stage. Aldean ran for cover as shots rang out, which witnesses said sounded like fireworks.

“I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath,” Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters and Mayor Carolyn Goodman described the gunman, who travelled often to Las Vegas to gamble, as “a crazed lunatic full of hate”. They did not have much to add at their news conference late Monday.

Paddock’s mini-arsenal took even his brother, Eric Paddock, by surprise. He said, according to reports, “Where the hell did he get automatic weapons? He has no military background or anything like that.”

But from all accounts, all were acquired legally, a few of them from the same store.

From his perch on the 32nd floor of the hotel, Paddock shot into concertgoers at an outdoor country music festival that was into its last performance. People ran for cover wherever they could — one of them dived into the sewer.

In a murderous spree lasting, by some accounts, 15 minutes in three bursts separated by a brief interval as he probably reloaded his weapon(s), Paddock had killed 59 people.

Questions about gun laws began surfacing within hours of the shooting. On Twitter, former vice-president Joe Biden called on Congress and the White House to act immediately.

Former first lady Hillary Clinton weighed in too, and stressed on the need for the government to stand up to the gun lobby headed by the National Rifle Association.

Democratic senator Chris Murphy said in a statement, “This must stop. It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic.” Murphy is from Connecticut, where the Newtown school massacre took place in 2012. Twenty first-graders and six educators were shot by Adam Lanza, another lone gunman who then killed himself.

First Published: Oct 03, 2017 09:47 IST