Mathew Mackie

What Happened in Vegas Will Stay in Vegas: America Will Discuss Everything but Gun Control

Once again, we’ve witnessed the worst massacre in American history. While the solution is obvious to everyone else, my money is on America once again avoiding it.


The situation in America is so galling, it almost frames itself as a joke: “How many massacres does it take to change a mind?”

Yesterday, I was shaken to attention by the cough of a text message, alerting me to the hissing sound of staccato violence in Las Vegas. The next seven hours were spent witnessing the body count spool, the number lowering my jaw with each refresh. At the time of writing in the wee hours of the morning after, the figure stands at 59 dead, 500+ wounded.

I retroactively realized that the first image I happened across, the blood flicked legs of a still figure that wore denim would be the one that would come to define the indefinable. It was a still image, yes, but she seemed stiller than the rest. Forever frozen on the Vegas gutter where she breathed her last. In years to come, it might end up being my generation’s photo of Nguyễn Văn Lém, an irrefutable slice of celluloid that reminds us of the pointlessness of the ugliness in our modern day life.

Then again, it might not.

The Worst Mass Shooting in American History seems to have morphed to a suffix with little emotional value, as we’ve sat at this juncture so many times before, wondering how we got here and how someone could do such a thing. Only last year, we wrung our hands over the hate-enabled violence in Orlando which claimed 49. Wind the clock forward and, as bitter as it is to type it, we seemingly find ourselves a new champion. 59 is now the magic number.



Now, we could entertain the idea of Presidential cock-measuring, noting how small the empathy is compared to the one before. We could, but we shouldn’t. In the name of objective journalism, Donald Trump did say something on the topic and, yes, you could argue that the hurried tone lends itself to the fatigued generic type you pursue when returning birthday greetings on Facebook, but we’d be missing the issue.



Unfortunately, it seems that America has many issues to address, and certainly any that could be latched upon as a means to not discuss the issue. Islamic State was quick to claim the attack, a fact which was later undone by the FBI. The far right is ablaze with surmisals, the current narrative swirls around the Deep State allies of the far left. Anything but addressing the fact that the shooter was a Nevada local and was easily able to take advantage of the extremely loose gun laws in his home state and legally purchase the twenty-odd rifles that enabled the act. I’m fairly certain that the narrative will follow the post-mortem of Orlando. The opportunity to focus on the culture that enabled yet another landmark to earn a morbid double meaning will be squandered.



Walking your fingers through the pages of modern-day bloodletting and their thumb seemingly is away from the pulse and, one could argue, firmly lodged in their sphincter. They seem to discuss everything but the issue. In the case of Dylann Roof, the white kid who killed nine blacks in a church in Charleston, it was the double standard of labels. After Columbine, blamed Marilyn Manson and video games. After Orlando, they spoke of what constitutes a hate crime. After Sandy Hook, they discussed whether it happened, or not.

The smoking gun here, is the smoking gun. The heavily mechanized automatic demon that lay spent on the carpeted floor of the Mandalay, which now presumably is in the safekeeping of plastic, quietly kept in the darkness of a box labeled “EVIDENCE.” A further irony is that they’ll also be in the dark, but it’d be a box of America’s own making.

In the coming days, we’ll question the motives of the man who depressed the trigger, but seldom will we discuss the means of how he was able to freely cart such a weapon (and nine others just like it) through a furiously busy Casino to his chosen perch overlooking the Route 91 music festival. The sheer rate of fire that enabled Paddock’s rampage should speak volumes, but, disappointingly, I believe the mute conversation of periphery topics will dominate the rhetoric.



The why will be favored over the question we should be asking: how. 

Sadly, the dire impulse in my head seems to ring true. That if nothing changed after Orlando, which was a hate rampage on American soil endorsed by their primary antagonist, I do not believe that the spent humanity of Las Vegas will push them to the change they sorely need, and the rest of the world already possesses.

Here’s hoping the below becomes the rule, not the exception; but I’m tempering my expectations.



It is once again time for meaningful change.

The question remains, if nothing changes after Las Vegas, what is it going to take?

Honestly, I don’t think I want to witness the answer.


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