Las Vegas Suffers Deadliest Mass Shooting in U.S. History
Last night, concertgoers in Las Vegas suffered the deadliest mass shooting in United States history, when a gunman murdered at least 50 people and wounded more than 400. The perpetrator opened fire from a 32nd-floor room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, shooting down into a crowd of 22,000 country music fans who were attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
The shooting began just after 10 p.m. while country singer Jason Aldean was performing onstage. As the gunshots began, most in the crowd did not realize what was happening. At one point, police told people to take cover and stay down, but the gunshots continued. The crowd panicked and fled, and the firing continued. Of the hundreds of gunshots that poured into the crowd, some came so rapidly that they must have been fired by a fully automatic weapon.
Police located and breached the gunman’s hotel room and found him; he reportedly had already fatally shot himself. His body was found along with 10 or more weapons.
Reporters say the shooter was a 64-year-old white male named Stephen Paddock who had been living in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada. His motives for the attack are unclear. Some reports say he was known to police but had no previous convictions or instances of police contact. Authorities say he had no known terrorist associations or religious affiliations that could have motivated the attack, and he was not a veteran.
Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said that at this point authorities do not think this was an act of terrorism and said “We don’t know what his belief system was at this time.”
According to the Mass Shooting Tracker, this is the 339th mass shooting in the United States this year. The tragedy is the latest example of a concerning trend in America: Mass shootings are on the rise. After a March 30 shooting at a nightclub in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Trumpet noted:
[T]he number of mass shooting victims has increased dramatically over the last four years, from 1,643 people shot in 2013 to 2,387 people shot in 2016. During that time, the annual number of mass shooting incidents rose from 339 to 477.
With last night’s shooting, the number of victims from mass shootings this year is well over 2,000—already far higher than the 2013 total. The same Trumpet article said:
The Congressional Research Service also confirms the fact that mass shootings are increasing in America. Congress defines a mass shooting incident with more stringent parameter than Mass Shooting Tracker, saying that a mass shooting is a multiple homicide incident in which four or more victims are murdered with firearms. A 2013 Congressional report on mass shootings found that such multiple homicide incidents are over four times more common today than in the 1970s.
While much of the public discussion about these horrific mass shootings focuses on gun control, this ignores the fact that America has been a nation of gun owners ever since the first colonist arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, over 400 years ago. In fact, American gun ownership has actually dropped to its lowest level in nearly 40 years. So increased access to guns does not explain the increased prevalence of mass shootings.
The reason mass shootings have increased so dramatically is because the moral fiber of America is breaking down.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education William J. Bennett points out in his book The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators that a survey of U.S. school teachers in 1940 revealed that the top problems in America’s public school system were talking out of turn, chewing bubble gum, running in the hallways, cutting in line, and littering. By 1990, the top problems included drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, suicide, rape, robbery and assault. It is safe to say that these problems have worsened during the 27 years since.
Something has gone seriously wrong with American society. Broken families across the nation are producing killers and criminals at a record rate. The per capita rate of violent crime has doubled since 1960. A murder, a rape, a robbery or an aggravated assault is committed every 26 seconds in America today.
There is a reason for such horrific violence: America has turned away from God’s laws governing family life and private morality. In the Bible, God warns that such rebellion produces horrific murders and bloody crimes.
“My face will I turn also from them …,” the God of the Bible states in Ezekiel 7:22-23. “Make a chain: for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence.”
There has indeed been a chain of bloody crimes in America. The nation cannot go a single minute without Americans committing and suffering two violent crimes, and it can hardly get through a single day without suffering another mass shooting.
The eternal, unchanging moral laws revealed in the Holy Bible bring great peace, happiness and true freedom when followed. It is because society rejects, ignores and mocks these laws that mass shootings and other bloody crimes continue and worsen.