What happens in Vegas
We are asking why he did it, what made Stephen Paddock kill so many people? He had no history of anger nor can we see any logic behind what he did. But perhaps there is.
Our bodies have a unique way of rewarding certain behaviors, thereby making it beneficial to repeat those behaviors. It can reward many positive behaviors, which can create the drive to become a super athlete. But it also rewards negative behaviors, which we refer to as addictions. Examples are overeating, smoking, excessive drinking, obsession with sex or drugs…and yes, killing. Hunting is considered a sport, but for many the reward is the high they receive from killing another living creature. Serial killers seem to have an addiction to kill for the reward of feeling that special high.
We are looking for behaviors in Mr. Paddock that are not normal — a connection with a radical religious belief, an alien from some country that does not share our religion and customs or perhaps criminal activity or dysfunctional mental health. We cannot imagine that a “normal” Anglo-American middle-aged man could ever do such a thing.
But could it be that he may have been normal in most every way but had that one secret addiction that he concealed from everyone? It was noted that he was a very intelligent person, was a man of few words and had few, if any, close relationships. His marriage did not succeed, he apparently did not have children and I would not expect him to have had any positive pet relationships. Yet none of these are abnormal behaviors.
And hunting was socially acceptable behavior, even though each killing may have rewarded him with an endorphin high. It was likely a reward that became an addiction that he could get in no other way. But he was smart enough not to talk to others about how killing made him feel outside the context of hunting for sport. If he had actually discussed that feeling with someone in the distant past, perhaps over the killing of a pet, he may then have decided it was in his best interest not to talk about that feeling again.
At age 64 he was getting older and felt he did not have much time left, so it was time to plan toward getting the ultimate high. Yet there were many prohibitions. If he killed many people and someone killed him in the process, he would not have fulfilled his ultimate goal of being in control to the very end. So the planning of every detail was essential. The high could be continued to the very final moment if he remained in control as he ended his own life too. He would have then received the ultimate high that he had long planned with no retribution as he passed out of this life.
I doubt that he was angry with any person or group of people or that he was influenced by a radical religious group. It is more likely that he had lived his life the way he wanted and now, as he was nearing the end of his life, he would plan his ultimate high along with his preferred and painless way of leaving this world.
Truett Johnson, Waco
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The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Obviously the need for a state militia has been replaced by the National Guard and Coast Guard whereby trained military personnel are entrusted with the defense of this country against domestic enemies. Their weapons are tightly controlled and safeguarded.
The only two reasons for a citizen to own a firearm are for hunting or defense of the household from intruders. In either case, ownership of a handgun, shotgun or rifle is more than adequate to satisfy these purposes. There is absolutely no need for any U.S. civilian to own any weapon more powerful or sophisticated than these.
Accordingly, all handguns, shotguns and rifles must be licensed and registered to the degree necessary to match weapon to owner at the click of a computer key. Furthermore, we must guarantee that the mentally ill do not gain access to them under any circumstances. Finally, if we had prohibited the purchase of more sophisticated weapons, innocent people would not have died or been harmed at shopping malls, college campuses, congressional meetings, churches and now country music concerts. We as a country must deal with this issue immediately lest our society fall back to the days when everyone carried a holster.
Joe Bialek, Cleveland, Ohio
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I’ve been shooting since I was 10 years old. Accuracy coupled with safety — that’s what my father instilled in me. This even extended to play. Shame on me if my father caught me pointing even a toy gun at another person.
Never heard of a “bump stock” till the tragedy in Las Vegas unfolded. This bump stock is obviously just a means to skirt the Federal Firearms Act of 1934. Must not be too “obvious,” as the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives permitted its manufacture and distribution.
Guys, I have loaded weapons around me every day and have never had one hurt or kill someone. Legislation is not going to stop these mass killings. Guns are simply a tool. Would I support outlawing bump stocks? Probably not, as those pushing the issue want total repeal of the Second Amendment and nothing less.
Never used a bump stock and probably never will, but give the progressives an inch and they will take a mile. It is just their nature.
How about stopping some of the ultra-violent “games” where racking up kills is the whole point. The U.S. government says those who excel at these “games” are their most proficient “killers.” Hmm, believe there is a connection!
Dan Dayton, West
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Just a theory (which I’m sure has already been suggested, but I’m not on Facebook nor do I watch TV), but perhaps the Las Vegas shooter’s actions have more to do with his gambling history than any political stance. Perhaps he lost a substantial amount and he wanted to get even with the casino owners there. Perhaps he wanted to create the negative association of shooting massacres with the notion that coming to Las Vegas is dangerous and thus would make people hesitant to come in the future.
This scheme would affect the casino owners and tourism executives in their pocketbooks, even if only for a relatively short time. That would probably be the only outcome that got their attention, even more than the specific loss of life. Knowing that Stephen Paddock’s girlfriend took a substantial amount of money, perhaps his last ready cash, to another country only adds to the conjecture and intrigue.
Perhaps the actual killings were unavoidable collateral to make his point. And, yes, this sounds like the plot to a TV program these disturbing days.
Nancy Marquis, Waco
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In his Trib column reacting to the Las Vegas shooting, local pastor Glynn Beaty misuses the scriptures to imply Christians should not own guns. Also, there are laws, both federal and state, restricting the Second Amendment such as not selling guns to felons and people with certain mental illnesses.
The National Rifle Association has publicly stated they are for the “restriction” of the now legal sale of “bump-fire stocks” that make semi-automatic guns fire “automatically.”
As much as I, like Rev. Beaty, would love to see an end to mass shootings. there is no law anyone has tried or offered that will stop this. The Boston Marathon bombing proves that mass deaths and injuries can and will happen even without guns. Mass killers will always find a method for their madness.
Jim Cantrell, Axtell
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The pencil on your desk has never misspelled a word.
The cookware in your kitchen has never prepared a bad meal.
The vehicle in your driveway has never been charged with a DWI.
The firearm in your home will never kill anyone on its own.
Inanimate objects plus human involvement can at times produce undesirable results.
Gary Moore, Hewitt
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President Trump visited Las Vegas to pay his respects to the survivors of the senseless Oct. 1 tragedy and the heartbroken families of the 59 victims. It was an act of pure evil that will forever leave a stain on our nation.
But while we saw the worst in mankind that night, we also saw the best. Heroes sacrificed their lives to shield their loved ones and even complete strangers. As President Trump said, “even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope.”
Those heroes who gave up everything that night will forever be that ray of hope.
Ronna McDaniel, Chairwoman, Republican National Committee
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I thank Republican Congressman Bill Flores and Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz for their prayers for the dead and wounded of the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas. In their prayers, I hope they prayed real hard and asked God for wisdom to reduce gun violence, to search their own souls as to what they can actually contribute in the here and now to prevent or discourage gun violence.
God will surely hear such prayers. My prayer? I hope their hearts truly break over these senseless and tragic deaths.
Fred A. Winslow, Waco