Cheap Seats 2017
Leaving Las Vegas - 10/18
By Rich Trzupek
As people continue to speculate about Stephen Paddock’s motive for the horror he unleashed on October 1 in Las Vegas, three notions stand out as plausible among a sea of unsupportable conspiracy theories.
The first idea is relatively simple: we’ll never know because the folks who do know aren’t going to let the rest of us know what they know. This is a conspiracy theory based explanation of course, but it’s one that includes a plausible motive among the conspirators and a conspiracy that could be successfully executed in certain, very narrowly-defined, conditions.
If someone believed that Paddock’s motives would cause substantial public unrest or that those motives would prove damaging to a powerful pubic figure, it is conceivable that investigation into Mr. Paddock’s past should be kept under tight cover.
This presupposes that the number of people who know the real story is very limited. The greater the number of conspirators, the less likely that the conspiracy will remain secret. It’s a theory that appears worthy of being included in the universe of the possible, but not in the realm of the likely.
The next theory involves drugs, legal or illegal, that induced a psychotic break in Mr. Paddock. It has been argued, by people who understand these things (a group of which I am decidedly not a member) that psychotic breaks don’t always result in instant action. Sometimes, when one is detached from reality – especially if the person in question is of a clever sort – then meticulous, long-term planning can occur.
This school of thought suggests that Paddock, his brain addled by legal and/or illegal drug interactions, decided to meticulously plan and carry out this massacre because he believed that by doing so he would be making the world a better place.
This proposition maintains that there a two types of drug-induced psychotic breaks: one that triggers nearly instantaneous action by the psychotic, and another that induces, careful, scheming by the psychotic to accomplish what he or she perceives to be an important goal.
It seems a plausible explanation, but also one that can be easily disproven if there is no basis for believing in it. If drugs were involved, then they should show up in the post-shooting investigation. If it were a case of a tragic interaction among prescribed drugs, that possibility will show up in pharmacy records. If it were a case of the influence of illicit drugs, the presence of such drugs should show up in Paddock’s autopsy results.
The third theory that passes the credibility test seems the most likely accurate in the eyes of this amateur criminal investigator. It’s a more subtle explanation, but it fits better than anything I’ve heard proposed. We start by considering the following:
1. Paddock was an internet-era hermit. He didn’t do social media. He didn’t blog. He didn’t submit op-eds for publication. His private, personal opinions about virtually any issues of the day remain a mystery and, given the number of available outlets in this era of hyper-communication, surely that is purposely so.
2. Paddock knew that he would attract world-wide media attention the moment he opened fire on the crowd attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival. He also knew that the level of carnage he would inflict – given the number of weapons and amount of ammunition he accumulated in his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel – would magnify that attention immensely.
3. Paddock had put an enormous amount of thought into carrying out this atrocity. He spend tens of thousands of dollars purchasing weapons and enhancements for those weapons. He spent days stealthily assembling his cache at his firing position. There was nothing spontaneous about this attack.
4. We are thus left to consider a seemingly contradictory question: why would an obviously intelligent man put so much time, treasure and energy into carrying out such a gruesome attack while purposely avoiding leaving any record to justify his actions?
The only possible answer to the above question seems to explain everything. Paddock did not choose to offer a reason for committing mass murder because he wanted America to talk about one issue, and one issue alone, in the wake of his slaughter: the right to bear arms.
Indeed, that is the only issue that has gained any traction following Paddock’s rampage. Most Democrats and some Republicans are using Paddock’s rampage as a reason to further clamp down on Americans’ rights under the Second Amendment. Paddock left legislators with nothing else to talk about. It’s difficult to believe that was not his intention. What better way, in this mad man’s eyes, to expose the supposed dangers of gun ownership than planning and executing slaughter to an unprecedented degree using guns?
I make no pretense of being any sort of psychological expert when it comes to explaining the actions of psychotics. I merely relate my amateur opinion of the only three theories that make any sort of sense to me. Hopefully, the experts will eventually figure it out.