By Colleen Dabrowski
Gunfire disrupted the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 2, at 10:08 p.m. PST. The country music festival had around 22,000 attendees, over 500 of which were injured and 58 people were killed, according to CNN. Witnesses say gunshots rang out for more than 10 minutes. The shooter, a 64-year-old white man, was found dead in the luxury hotel suite from which the shots were fired, police believe by suicide. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department reported that at least 23 firearms were found in the shooter’s hotel suite—all of which were purchased legally. The weapons are suspected to be rifles altered to function as automatic weapons. This has not been described as a terror attack, as the FBI has yet to identify a motive or connection to any terror group.
The shooter was a native to Mesquite, Nevada, where the Mesquite Police Department said he was never suspect and had a clean record. Upon searching his home and property in Mesquite, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reportedly found 19 firearms and explosives. Some media sources took the time to discuss the personal life of the mass murderer; he was wealthy, came from a troubled family, enjoyed high-stakes gambling and golf. Many have accused these sources of attempting to humanize the murderer, saying that such talk would have never happened if he had been a person of color.
“It’s unbelievable for me to turn on the news and see that a preventable disaster has claimed so many lives and government officials are worried about preventing abortion and our President’s only recent action is throwing paper towels at Puerto Ricans,” said Brianna Vazquez-Smith (‘19). “It’s scary to know that it’s acceptable for a white man to walk around with a gun and decide to kill me because I’m a woman, or black, or gay, or at a concert, or in a school, or at the movies, or walking down the street, or driving or just existing.”
As typical after a mass shooting in the United States, the stock prices of arms companies rose. According to the New York Times, shares in Sturm, Ruger & Co., makers of Ruger handguns and rifles, rose by 3.5 percent on Monday and an additional 2.1 percent on Tuesday. Similarly, shares for the American Outdoor Brands, the company that owns Smith & Wesson, rose by 3.2 percent on Monday and an additional 2.4 percent on Tuesday. These stock price increases were less significant than after past mass shootings, a trend the New York Times suspected is due to Trump’s “perceived ambivalence toward gun control.” Drew student Kevin DePope (‘18) said “I think that even if we do change gun control laws, people who want to do mass shootings will find other ways to obtain illegal firearms.”
World leaders have reached out in support of the Las Vegas community. Donald Trump tweeted, “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted, “Words fail this morning. The friendship & support of Canadians is with the victims in Las Vegas & the people of the US.” Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, England, tweeted, “A deeply sad day for the city of Las Vegas. London sends our condolences to the victims and their families.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “Our sympathy and condolences go to the relatives and families of the victims.”
Nevada U.S. Representative Dina Titus says that the community desperately needs blood and encourages those in the area to donate, if possible.
Image courtesy of the New Yorker