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What if there are no answers?

October 9, 2017

It may well be that nothing anyone could have done would have stopped what happened in Las Vegas prior to the shooter’s arrival there.

As many suspected early on after the Las Vegas mass shooting, the answer to the “why” is likely to be better explained by psychologists than police.

If he had a grudge, maybe it was that people just made him uncomfortable, and he finally decided to destroy as many of what made him uncomfortable as he could.

One psychologist attempted to put a clinical label on him early on, but in the end it will come down to diagnosis by studying his previous actions, making any answer inconclusive.

When Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, was finally captured in 1996, he was subsequently examined by several forensic and clinical psychologists. They never did come to total agreement as to what personality disorder or mental defect he suffered.

That’s what’s so frustrating. We tend to want to “fix” everything and accepting that there was no magic pill, no gun control law, no domestic violence arrest or anything else to fix going forward may be the hardest thing of all.

Gun control wouldn’t have stopped him. So he had 40-plus firearms, many of one type. So do many collectors. He passed every background check, and given his attention to detail, it’s likely that if he had to wait seven days instead of three, he would have done so.

And for the clueless late night hosts and political opportunists. Any person or family that hunts is probably going to own more than one firearm.  You don’t use the same caliber rifle to hunt a  moose or a bear as you would for a deer or feral hog or a duck. And no hunter who habitually ventures into the back country is going to go there without adding a sidearm to that mix.

If he did in fact buy most of them at retail over a one-year span, maybe that’s a clue, but is it conclusive enough for a warrant?

See something, say something?  Although several neighbors and tradespeople said he sometimes acted “off” or spoke rudely to the girlfriend, that isn’t something you can report to the police and expect them to take action on it. Others who knew or observed him saw nothing wrong at all.  Being somewhat of a loner (remember, he went out in public a lot) and a teetotaler isn’t a crime.

He was a gambler, but he apparently didn’t bother anyone with it, and he could afford it. What are we going to do, arrest everyone who plays video poker?

He probably did have mental health issues, but he went to a  doctor. Unless we overturn HIPAA, or he was foaming at the mouth in the doctor’s office, was there enough there for a physician to report? Do we want everyone who gets an anti-anxiety prescription put on a watch list?

And what about the explosives? Guns weren’t his only weapon.

Politicians will do what they always do, try to turn this tragedy to their advantage. Ordinary people will ponder on the meaning of fate. Hotels, large venues and law enforcement will take whatever actions they can to make the public feel safer.

In the process of trying to answer these questions to somehow “fix” this, will we lose a few more of the freedoms we used to take for granted, all because of one now dead person?

If that’s true, in the end, he won.

From → op-ed

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