On Sun. Oct. 1, around 10:08 p.m., Stephen Paddock committed one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history. Paddock began shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival from his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino hotel. The Las Vegas police have reported that the shooting went on for 9 to eleven minutes.
At this time it is unknown what Paddock’s motivations were. Authorities believe at this time that he was working alone. They have interrogated his girlfriend to see if she had any connection to this mass shooting.
In his room, Paddock had over 23 guns. All of these guns appear to have been purchased legally, but the event as well as the weapons involved are still under investigation. Paddock possessed additional weapons as well. Although authorities initially made contact with Paddock, by the time they were able to access the room, he had committed suicide.
In this brief amount of time, Paddock took the lives of at least 58 people and additionally injured over 500. In response, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) created a page with resources for victims and their families. The page informs people on where they are able to donate blood to assist the victims and where they can donate food, supplies and money for the victims and their families.
The New York Times released a list of the victims: 36 men were killed, along with 22 women. Half of the deceased were parents. There was a 47 year age range between the oldest and youngest victim of the shooting.
The victims of this mass shooting came from all walks of life and varied backgrounds. These people were parents, children, siblings, colleagues, students, spouses and many others who came together to celebrate music. In the face of this tragedy, many communities are coming together to support the victims and speak out about what they believe needs to change.
Campus Ministry put out a flyer and candle honoring the lives of the victims lost to this shooting. The message stated a prayer from Archbishop Desmond Tutu as well as another prayer asking for strength and peace in the face of this tragedy.
Steve Berger who was one of these victims was a father of three young children. He was born in Wisconsin, but came to Minnesota to study at St. Olaf and lived the last ten years of his life in Cambridge, MN. He is the only victim from Minnesota.
According to Star Tribune, 2016 was a record year for issuance of new conceal carry permits in Minnesota, more than 71,000. As of 2016, there were more than 265,000 total permit holders in Minnesota. These numbers take into account only handgun owners.
Referencing St. Kate’s employee handbook, on page 71, “The University maintains a strict policy prohibiting guns, rifles and all other weapons in the workplace. Carrying and/or possessing guns, rifles or other weapons in the workplace, by any employee, will not be tolerated. It does not matter whether the employee is licensed to do so or not.”
The handbook continues, prohibiting “non-employees include, but are not limited to vendors, visitors, students and potential students…,” from carrying weapons on campus as well.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension states that employers and private institutes do have the right to prohibit or restrict guns on their property. Along with these, there are also other state and federal statutes that prohibit guns in certain areas, such as correctional facilities, hospitals, federal facilities, etc.
Marina Gorsuch, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics and political science, shared some of her thoughts about President Trump’s response to the shooting as well as her perspective about policies revolving around guns.
“There is definitely kind of an avoidance of policy, which is frustrating,” says Gorsuch, in regards specifically to President Trump’s response to the shooting.
When talking about policy around gun control laws, Gorsuch offered a fresh perspective about the second amendment.
“Often times, people use the second amendment as their justification, but a lot of this just comes down to their identities as Americans,” says Gorsuch. “The American identity for a lot of people is tied so tightly to the concept of guns.”
Gorsuch advocated for evidence based policies regarding gun laws. She believes that it is an unfair comparison to look at gun control compared to other countries because of the different governmental systems and other variables that impact policy change.