By ALEX DE LEÓN
At last count, 58 people were killed and over 500 were wounded Oct. 1 by gunman Stephen Paddock from the 32nd floor of his Mandalay Bay hotel room in Las Vegas.
Most of the victims were attendees of the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival on the Strip. Jason Aldean was performing on stage when death came from above.
Video taken by concertgoers and others showed confusion, then panic, as it became apparent what was happening.
The dead and the wounded lay bleeding on the ground, many in the arms of their friends or bystanders.
People can be heard screaming and the sound of shots continued in the night air.
The scene was horrific. The events are tragic. And it won’t mean a damned thing in terms of gun-control legislation.
After the massacre, Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said: “The thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference. It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something.”
Don’t hold your breath, Senator.
If 20 dead first-graders in Newtown, Connecticut, weren’t enough to motivate Congress, some millennial country music fans definitely won’t.
The problem, as with most issues in America, goes back to money.
Annual revenue for the gun and ammunition industry was $13.5 billion in 2014, according to CNBC.
That kind of money puts a bazooka in the hands of gun manufacturers and pro-gun lobbyists like the National Rifle Association. To put it crudely, they have Congress by the balls.
It goes something like this: Gun manufacturers have persuaded enough Americans that having a gun is a good thing.
The industry has scared their customers into believing that a shadowy figure lurks outside the window of their children’s bedrooms or that some thug lies in wait in a Target parking lot ready to drag them away.
This fear translates to gun purchases. Those purchases fuel a now obscenely powerful gun lobby in Washington, professional influencers of public gun policy – those hands I mentioned before with a firm grip on Congress’ genitals.
With so much money in the war chest, the NRA and other gun lobbyists stand ready to mow down any member of Congress who votes for stricter gun laws in the form of campaign donations and attack ads.
Voting yes on an assault weapons ban? Here’s $5,000 to your pro-gun political opponent.
Voting no on the right to concealed-carry? Here’s $10,000 to a political action committee that will produce an ad not-so-subtly calling you an ISIS sleeper agent.
Got a yes-vote ready for me on larger magazines? How about guns on college campuses? Get out your umbrella, ’cause I’m making it rain.
The NRA alone spent almost $28 million on lobbying in 2014, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
During that time, just $13.5 million was spent by all gun-control lobbying groups.
The maddening part about all of this is that in spite of the gun industry’s brainwashing, most Americans actually agree on certain gun-control measures.
For instance, 84 percent of Americans support background checks for private firearm sales and gun show purchases, according to the Pew Research Center. Another 89 percent believe that the mentally ill should be prevented from purchasing firearms. And 85 percent agree that guns should not be sold to those on no-fly or watch lists. None of these sentiments have translated into legislation.
It is debatable whether Paddock could have been prevented from wreaking the havoc he did. After all, he had no criminal history or history of mental illness, so he passed all background checks. But the body count could have been reduced by limiting the power of his firearms, shortening magazines, or banning trigger-assists or bump stocks like the kind he used during his rampage, effectively turning a semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic weapon.
But nothing will change because gun owners have created a monster in the NRA which will let nothing, not Orlando, or Aurora or Las Vegas, stop it.
We’re just going to have to get used to seeing bloody bodies at concert venues, movie theaters