Why Gun Control Loses, and Why Las Vegas Might Change That

We do keep having a debate over guns in the United States; it’s just that the side that’s convinced that new regulations will prevent another Newtown or Orlando or Las Vegas keeps on losing the argument.

.. gun control is substantially less popular than it was in the 1990s — and gun rights is one of the few issues where the Republican Party is actually in touch with what many Americans seem to want.

.. Why is gun control losing? One answer is structural. Gun ownership is a form of expressive individualism no less than the liberties beloved in blue America, and it makes sense that a culture that rejects erotic limits would reject limits on self-defense as well. Especially since the appeal of gun ownership is also linked to individualism’s dark side — to distrust of your neighbor and your government, to the decay of communities and families, to a sense of being unprotected and on your own.

.. Anti-gun activists seize on the most horrifying acts of killing, understandably, and use them as calls to legislative action. But then the regulatory measures they propose, even when they poll well, often lack any direct connection to the massacres themselves.

.. If you go back through the list of recent mass atrocities, for instance, you don’t see many killers buying guns through the supposed “gun show loophole” or without a background check.

.. In a free society, madmen and monsters find a way to kill — as the killer in Vegas, a man of means and no significant criminal history, almost certainly would have even with tighter gun regulations and stiffer background checks.

Gunman’s Vantage Point and Preparations Opened the Way for Mass Slaughter

The possibility that Mr. Paddock used tripods, which two law enforcement officials said were in the room, indicates that he understood how to overcome some of the difficulties of his plan. Special mounts designed to fit the underside of a rifle and sit atop camera tripods allow the gunman to fire more accurately while standing. Military snipers use tripods in urban spaces, often setting themselves back from a window so neither they nor their weapons can be seen from the streets below.

.. When the gunshots started, videos showed, those in front of the stage dropped to their stomachs — often an adequate first measure when under fire. But on Sunday night, the decision potentially put them at greater risk.

.. at least 16 rifles, ranging from .308 to .223 caliber, and a handgun were retrieved

.. Ammonium nitrate was found in Mr. Paddock’s car in Las Vegas, the sheriff said, but he did not say how much was recovered.

.. Sustained rapid fire is difficult to control and causes many weapons, especially light weapons, to overheat quickly.

.. Nevada, unlike some states, has no laws limiting ammunition magazine capacities.

Las Vegas Shooting: Gunman’s Rifle Had ‘Bump Stock’ to Make It Rapid-Fire Weapon

.. issued a statement on Tuesday confirming that Mr. Paddock purchased “several” rifles and shotguns from the business last spring — all at the same time. It’s not uncommon for customers to do this to save money on background check fees, Mr. Famiglietti said.

.. “The firearms he purchased did not leave our store capable of what we’ve seen and heard in the video without modification,” he said. “They were not fully automatic firearms, nor were they modified in any way — legally or illegally — when they were purchased from us.”

..  Mr. Paddock seemed to be interested in competitive shooting, asking the clerk a lot of questions about three-gun shooting matches — an increasingly popular sport in which players use a rifle, a shotgun and a pistol.

.. Mr. Paddock worked for the federal government for roughly 10 years, from 1975 to 1985, a spokeswoman for the federal Office of Personnel Management confirmed on Tuesday. Investigators unearthed multiple job applications, with Mr. Paddock’s fingerprints on file, as part of records reflecting his employment as a letter carrier for the Postal Service; as an I.R.S. agent; and as an auditor of defense contracts.