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The deadliest shooting attack in the US ever

THE shooting incident in Las Vegas last Sunday, Oct. 1, was the deadliest shooting attack in the United States ever.

It was the worst incident since the Sept. 11, 2001, destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City.

As of Monday, Oct. 2, 59 people were confirmed killed and 527 wounded when a lone gunman in his 32nd floor hotel room opened fire at a crowd attending a country music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was worse than the shooting in Orlando, Florida, in 2016 in which 49 were killed; worse than the shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia in 2007, in which 33 died.

And no one even knows why the Las Vegas gunman did it because before policemen could get to him in the hotel room, he had killed himself. He was not an immigrant from any of the Muslim-majority countries banned by President Trump’s executive order, or an illegal from south of the border, along which the President wants to build a wall. If he was any of these, he would have become exhibit No. 1 in Trump’s campaign to keep America safe from terrorists from other countries, mostly in the Middle East.

The gunman, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, appeared unconnected to any militant group and he appeared to have acted by himself. He was said to be a wealthy, golf-playing gambler who lived in a quiet retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada, a few towns away from Las Vegas.

A lot of investigative work must be done to get to the bottom of this tragedy – principally Paddock’s reasons for doing what he did. In all the previous incidents, the motives were well determined by probers. In the World Trade Center attack, for example, the men who flew the hijacked airlines into the twin towers were Arab jihadist terrorists out to inflict harm on the US. The Orlando shooting in a men-only nightclub was a hate crime; the killer was said to have been affronted by the sight of men in intimate relations with each other. We hope sometime soon to find out what drove Paddock into his murderous attack.

In the meantime, the Las Vegas killing may revive the old controversy over the ease with which Americans can acquire guns. There is a potent sector of Americans who strongly defend the right of every citizen to own guns, a right protected by the US Constitution itself.

Paddock had 23 guns, including two rifles with scopes set up on tripods at the windows of the hotel room. Most were high-powered assault rifles. From his vantage position, he fired repeatedly at the festival crowd below. One witness said the shooting was in several bursts of gunfire for a total of 10 minutes.

Paddock’s accumulation of so many high-powered guns plus his still undetermined motive will occupy the attention of probers in the coming days and weeks. We and the rest of the world will be following developments very closely for this is such an unusual crime that we pray we will never see in our own country.