The Mathematics of a Massacre

I, like many Americans, followed the events in Las Vegas with a mixture of horror and helplessness. I’m tired of thoughts and prayers and flower memorials and most of all tired of the routine nature of mass shootings in America. Each new massacre unfolds like an old-fashioned melodrama in which everyone plays their role, the audience knows what will happen next, and then the actors disappear from the stage until the next performance. I’m tired of the left shouting about gun control and the invincibility of the NRA. I’m tired of the right pushing a fantasy about Obama rappelling down from a UN helicopter to seize everyone’s guns. But besides being tired, I’m scared that the intransigence of the paranoid gun nuts will convince the majority of people in this country to trash the Second Amendment completely.

I have made the point before, (, but it needs repeating. As long as both sides keep yelling at each other and ignoring the legitimate concerns that each has about guns, these horrific events will continue until one side gains so much political power that it will bury the other. Smart money will not be on the NRA. Exhibit A is MADD. When I was growing up, people drove drunk regularly, comedians joked about it, and Television as well as movies poked fun at the practice. But a group of mothers in this country got tired of seeing their children slaughtered by drunks and formed MADD in 1980. They have successfully gotten laws passed at every level of government and cut the number of drunk driving deaths in half. And it’s not just the laws, they have changed American culture. Designated drivers are now rewarded and celebrated while repeat DUI’s go to prison. Because of MADD, people regularly prevent their friends from driving while intoxicated. It’s a good organization but in its zeal it has done damage it never anticipated. Getting rid of 3.2% beer and eliminating alcohol sales to military personnel has led to the unintended consequence of binge drinking and an increase in alcohol poisoning. Plus, freedom took a hit.

No one knows what the tipping point for the American consciousness will be on mass shootings. No one can predict when the attitude about gun culture will change. But the numbers don’t look good for us gun owners. Three per cent of the population owns half of the guns. That means there are a lot of Americans (over 70%) who don’t own guns and are willing to give up some liberty in the hope that it will protect them from crazy people. A growing number of organizations, led by people like Gabby Gifford, Sandy Hook parents, and others traumatized by mass shooting events, are gathering strength and political influence. They will not be denied and once they begin to taste success, they will be hard to stop.

For those who can put aside their emotions when it comes to gun legislation, it’s time for a math lesson. The figures are rough because all of the exact data has yet to be released. The shooter (I refuse to use his name) used a legal device to increase his rate of fire from 60 rounds a minute (the approximate maximum rate for a semi-automatic) to 600 rounds (estimates are 400-800 so I’m choosing the middle number for simplicity). Estimates are that the shooting lasted for approximately ten minutes. Fifty-eight people died and over five hundred were injured. Rounded off, that’s 600 casualties with a 10% fatality rate. Roughly 6000 rounds produced this carnage (that’s a maximum number.) That’s one casualty per second and six deaths per minute. When compared to other mass shootings using similar weapons, the Las Vegas shooter caused ten times as much damage specifically due to the technological upgrade to his weapons.

Only a liar or a fool thinks such math is acceptable. Or that the American people will forever continue to accept that “Las Vegas” is the price of liberty. And while there is big money in selling guns, ammo, and fear, the cost to the taxpayer for government inaction is rising. More math: Cost of guns in hotel room= $17,250 (23 guns at $750 each), cost of 6000 rounds of .223 ammo = $1500 (300 boxes of 20 rounds at $5 per box), bump stock rapid fire accessory = $480 (12 at $40), hotel room- $0 (comp for high stakes gambler.) The grand total is $19230. That’s about the price of the hospital stay for one of his less severely injured victims. Or $33 per casualty… $333 per death.

I have read that estimates of the total cost for the shooting will reach $600 million dollars and that’s $1 million per casualty. Emergency room costs alone will exceed $2 million. Add in the long term hospital stay costs, operations, and rehab and the health care system will take a significant hit financially. I’m sure the law enforcement costs will be high as well. Tourism in Vegas is bound to suffer. Depending on whether one calculates the direct or indirect costs of gun violence, U.S. taxpayers are on the hook for between 9 and 167 billion dollars per yer. How long will people be willing to bear these costs without voting for a change?

Gun laws in this county are a hodge-podge of inconsistency. Every state, county and city has different rules. I see many people on Facebook arguing that the weapons the shooter used were illegal. They are not. In fact automatic weapons are perfectly legal in this country. Anybody who can afford it can own a machine gun or other automatic weapon; they are just very expensive. The argument has long been that anyone with the money to afford automatic weapons would never do what the Las Vegas shooter did. So much for that logic. Personally, I don’t even like the local police having automatic weapons. I certainly don’t want my neighbor to have them.

It’s time for people to listen to each other instead of just yelling. It’s time to turn off Alex Jones, Mark Levine, Keith Olberman, and all other polarizing wackos in the media. Jones has tried to turn Sandy Hook into a “false flag operation.” Any bets on how long it will take him to “prove” that the Las Vegas shooter was employed by Barack O’Billary and then killed to ensure his silence? Besides blaming NFL players, lack of prayer in schools, NAFTA, Democrats, and fidget spinners for the massacre, certain conservatives made a good point unintentionally when they compared driving a truck into a crowd with what happened in Vegas.

I would gladly trade universal carry and guaranteed protection from gun grabbers in exchange for regulating guns like we do trucks. Truckers need additional licensing, special training, drug screening, mental health evaluations, and regular physicals. And if they handle cargo that is more dangerous than normal they require even more certification and training. A person has to prove their ability to safely drive a semi on the highway. Why do we accept less when it comes to guns? But no matter where you are on gun control, you should agree that no one (outside of our military) should have access to automatic weapons or devices that allow a semiautomatic rifle to mimic one. The math is clear: such devices increase casualty rates ten-fold. Every second that a shooter has to change clips or stop to pull the trigger saves lives.

Everyone is looking for the shooter’s motive so they can have a “boogey man” to blame and thereby avoid the hard conversations we need as a nation. Psychologists will find some traumatic event in the shooter’s life, and Evangelicals will find evidence of the devil, atheism, or secularism. Why, oh, why couldn’t the shooter have been a black female gay Muslim? That would have made our conversation so much easier! I have a simple suggestion. The shooter in Las Vegas did what he did because he could. It’s that simple. Anyone who has been in a combat zone with an automatic weapon, knows that just might be the ultimate truth.