The unspeakable horror that unfolded in Las Vegas on Sunday night (local time) has left the world dumbfounded again. Party goers, revellers, young adults. All gunned down by a man with hatred in his soul, and a desire to strike fear into the heart of America.
Stephen Paddock, 64, has been named as the suspect in shooting more than 50 people attending the Route 91 country music festival. From his hotel room, he opened fire on scores of people. He took advantage of the vulnerable and the weak, and he picked them off one by one before being shot dead himself by Las Vegas Police.
The deadliest shooting in ‘recent US history’
It is the deadliest shooting in recent American history. It surpassed the Orlando club massacre last year, where Omar Mateen shot and killed 49 people inside the Florida nightspot.
Police confirmed that Mateen’s attack on innocent party goers was terrorist-related. They identified Mr Paddock as a ‘lone-wolf’, however. They have got it horribly wrong.
Stephen Paddock wasn’t radicalised by ISIS. He didn’t shout ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he opened fire, nor was he a foreigner or a man who grew his beard long. Does that absolve him from being labelled a terrorist?
We’re going do things by the book here. The Collins English Dictionary, to be precise.
A terrorist is a terrorist
At its purest form, any acts of violence which create widespread panic and fear are considered terrorist offences. Opening fire on a crowd of defenceless concert-goers, regardless of political aims and motivations, is a terrorist act.
The Las Vegas shooter perhaps isn’t demanding a caliphate across America like certain other terrorists. But make no mistake, Stephen Paddock is exceptionally radicalised.
The gun culture in the US has made him a terrorist. The country’s perverse obsession with firearms and saturation amongst their culture has infected his brain in the exact same way ISIS propaganda manages to reel in recruits.
Nevada, an exceptionally lax state for gun control, doesn’t even require background checks for those who want to buy a gun. Just take that in for a second: Regardless of background, mental health issues, or previous convictions, you can waltz into a store – permit-less – and leave with a firearm.
Gun culture is radicalising Americans
This entitlement to guns is utterly destructive. Their access and availability has proven deadly time and time again. The gunman in this case has taken advantage of this situation and acted upon their own beliefs to carry out a mass terror killing.
We respect the intense workload that Nevada State and Las Vegas police have to get through. We know that they are doing exceptionally heroic work in such horrific circumstances. But calling this man simply a ‘lone wolf’ is a huge mistake.
Like Dylan Roof, Elliot Rodger, Aaron Alexis, Adam Lanza, James Holmes and the hundreds of homegrown US terrorists before him, Stephen Paddock is clearly not on his own. In fact, there is nothing ‘lone’ about this. Far from being an isolated incident, this is Groundhog Day.
Las Vegas tells a sad, familiar tale…
Gun culture has allowed terrorism to grow in America. It has fostered a disgusting ideology, and it is unapologetically defended by its fundamentalist believers.
Las Vegas is the epitome of this. We send our prayers, condolences and every last bit of hope to those affected by the tragedy. We live in hope that something, someday will be done to tackle America’s most radical market, however.
TOP IMAGE: EPA-EFE/LVMPD