UPDATE: Eight days on, we still feel pretty good about this theory – though it’s worth noting that Paddock’s plans were clearly altered. The revelation that Mandalay Bay security guard Jesus Campos, who has since taken to the wind instead of appearing on Fox News to tell his story, was shot in a fusillade of some 200 bullets (only one of which hit him) BEFORE the massacre began would indicate panic on the shooter’s part.
There will be more clarity to this story as morsels of information fall out from the investigation. If and when the security guard ever resurfaces he may provide some. Or maybe we’ve seen the last of him.
ORIGINAL: If you didn’t hear about this over the weekend let’s change that – Mark Steyn had an interesting post at his site talking about the obvious theory for the motive of the Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock nobody else has offered.
And when you see this, you’ll likely agree this is what makes sense out of that entire horrific scenario.
Here’s Steyn, introducing a correspondent of his who propounded the theory Friday…
Among the many emails I’ve received is this one, from a gentleman at a London think tank whose job is to focus on “the analysis of economic and political issues and outcomes”. Make of this what you will, but he writes:
And here’s the Las Vegas theory…
Today we turned our collective minds to the the shooting in Las Vegas as a test case since the event is extraordinary in that thus far no one appears to have identified a cause behind the carnage. This is our reasoning:
The fact pattern in this event is striking for not fitting any known profile. In particular:
The gentleman concerned had no known political or religious affiliations.
The level of premeditation is unusual and crystal clear from his mass buying of guns and the cautious systematic smuggling operation to ferry them to his room together with the illegal modifications and the position of the room he chose and occupied for several days beforehand.
This denotes a deeply serious commitment to his act. And one which leaves no doubt that act was conceived to generate the maximum possible publicity.
The question then is: ‘publicity’ for what exactly?
And the answer would appear to be ‘nothing that can be identified’.
But consider the moral behind the following joke (I assure you it has a point beyond humour):
A known smuggler crosses the border every day at a particular crossing. Every day his suitcase is searched and nothing is found. After 20 years he crosses for a last time and confides to the policeman who has been searching him all that while that he is retiring.
The policeman asks him ‘Ok – since you’re clean today and will never cross the border again tell me this – you’ve been smuggling – right?’
The man says ‘Right.’.The policeman says ‘Smuggling what?’
The man says ‘Suitcases.’
Hold that ‘hiding in plain sight’ concept as we return to the shooting. This man amassed (rough figures) 24 guns in the hotel and another 19 at his home – 42 guns in total. He spent some $100,000 on buying them. The guns at his home are one thing but he also spent days filling his hotel room with more weapons and ammunition than he could ever conceivably use along with an array of advanced modifications and accessories.
Everything brand new. And very expensive. And mostly entirely redundant. Representing in effect an enormous waste of money and time and risk.
Except that is in the realm of generating massive publicity. Guaranteed massive publicity.
Yet despite having gone to enormous lengths to achieve that goal we are asked to believe this same man never troubled – never took the most elementary steps – to speak to that publicity. Indeed left behind no trace of anything that might demonstrate indicate or even hint at his motive or motives.
That would appear to make very little sense.
We would argue the opposite – that it makes absolute sense.
Because this gentleman did not simply fail to leave behind a motive; He took substantial trouble to ensure that no motive could be found – or attributed to him. All of which can lead us to only one conclusion:
It has been said that ‘the medium is the message’.
In this case that is the literal truth. There is only one plausible motive for what this man did. And here it is:
This man wished to telegraph to America in graphic form the hard irrefutable evidence that guns and gun ownership and the ease of gun purchase in America are an evil and must be controlled. On that hypothesis everything now makes sense. And it must be said his concept has a certain demented genius.
Because even if the public learns and believes that his motive was all about ‘guns’ the horror of the act itself – an act to protest such acts – is in some ways even worse for being plain evidence that there is no limit to the insanity to which guns can be put.
Here then is our argument:
1. His long planned and carefully executed purchase of a virtual armoury of unprecedented scope and scale guaranteed that very armoury would inevitably become the central focus of the media.
2. His assiduous removal of evidence of any tangible motive also removed the possibility that the news cycle might move on from guns – simply the means of the killing – to considering the more interesting issues of motive and message – be it political or economic or environmental or anything else.
3. This man was a highly methodical and systematic thinker. Nothing in the scenario that unfolded was left to chance – even down to positioning cameras to surveil the corridor. It is therefore inconceivable that this was all done in this precise manner for no reason. That there is no message.
But of course there is indeed a message. It only happens to be implicit instead of explicit. That message is ‘guns’. And that message is being trawled over every minute of every day on every network in America. Given the nature of the man and the facts this is not a chance outcome. On the contrary given the known facts it is indeed the only possible outcome. An outcome so obvious that anyone given the full story beforehand would have predicted as inevitable.
4. The people he chose to kill supports the hypothesis on ‘guns’. Country and Western fans are virtually guaranteed to own or at least to defend the ownership of guns. By a certain logic this provides the gunman with two sound moral positions (because it is not beyond possibility he has a conscience):
First – While killing a very large number of innocent people is an horrendous crime it is nonetheless entirely justifiable – in moral terms – if it causes a restriction on guns. Because such a restriction would – it is widely held – save innumerable lives in the long run. There is no evidence for this but it is still a widely and passionately held belief.
Second – Since the people he is shooting are actively or passively defenders of guns and an obstacle to gun control they are by definition responsible in part for all the people who have been and continue to be killed by guns.
Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?
To be sure, there are facts uncovered by the investigation into Paddock and his actions in Las Vegas which are not in the public realm, and those may or may not lend credence to this theory. But based on what we know so far, this theory is quite persuasive. Paddock didn’t leave behind a confession, so you don’t have concrete evidence that he was “smuggling suitcases.”
The overabundance of guns and ammunition, though, is a giveaway. So is the angle of his firing – shooting from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Casino, Paddock’s assault on those Las Vegas concert-goers can be considered a rebuttal to the common retort to the gun control crowd after a mass shooting that if any of the victims had been armed the results would have been far less bloody; nobody in that crowd was going to shoot back at him with any success.
And the media coverage of Las Vegas has been precisely what Paddock, under this theory, would have wanted. Things got so bad that the supposedly conservative New York Times columnist Bret Stephens abandoned the 2nd Amendment late last week in one of the dumbest pieces we’ve ever read. The National Rifle Association even offered to give ground on bump stocks, a modification to an AR-15 rifle which can make it function similarly to an automatic weapon.
So if this was mass murder-as-public-policy-advocacy, it might have some potency. Obviously it’s a level of horror which hasn’t been brought to the public discourse as such so far, but on the other hand this is what societal decline looks like.
Absent any other information about the case than what we know to date – and we’re not persuaded by any of the conspiracy theories about multiple shooters or ISIS or whatever else is bubbling up out of the fever swamps so far – this is what seems to best explain the horror in Las Vegas.