After a spree-killing at a Las Vegas concert that claimed the lives of 59 people and injured over 525 more, Hollywood celebrities have lined up to swing around their undue influence about grave policy issues like Americans’ right to self-defense.
In the misinformation torrent following the shooting, it was claimed that the alleged perpetrator, Stephen Paddock, used automatic weapons during the rampage. This is now contradicted by new evidence that Paddock may have used “bump stock” modifiers for semi-automatic rifles.
The motive for the deadliest shooting in U.S. history is currently unknown. The FBI, however, has ruled out any links to international terrorism. Public statements from Paddock’s brother also suggest that religious or political motives may not have played a role.
This has not stopped predatorial terror groups like ISIS from claiming Paddock as one of their own or social activists from asserting that Paddock was a “white terrorist.” Although this rhetorical flourish may inspire social justice warriors, “terrorism,” by definition, is “premeditated, politically motivated violence.”
It has also not stopped celebrities from unleashing scathing-hot takes on the atrocity. Platinum-selling pop singer Lady Gaga was among the most vocal:
This is terrorism plain and simple. Terror bares no race, gender or religion. Democrats & Republicans please unite now #guncontrol ??
— xoxo, Gaga (@ladygaga) October 2, 2017
The entertainer even implied “blood is on the hands” of President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan should they fail to pass more gun control laws:
— xoxo, Gaga (@ladygaga) October 2, 2017
Fellow pop singer Ariana Grande also imparted her wisdom on the matter:
My heart is breaking for Las Vegas. We need love, unity, peace, gun control & for people to look at this & call this what it is = terrorism.
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) October 2, 2017
Self-described comedian Amy Schumer was also there to pass along policy advice:
— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) October 2, 2017
Celebrities like Kim Kardashian West implied that passing gun control measures would “end gun violence.” (Needless to say, this logic doesn’t follow.)
Join the movement to end gun violence: Text ACT to 64433. pic.twitter.com/xN8a6vqkFx
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) October 2, 2017
Other celebrities latched onto the false narrative that President Trump’s overturning of Obama-era regulations regarding the “mentally ill” was a salient issue.
Are we really ok with monsters & the mentally ill buying machine guns?
— Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) October 2, 2017
Trump Signs Bill Revoking Obama-Era Gun Checks for People With Mental Illnesses – https://t.co/0xfK5E5Uc9
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 2, 2017
Singer John Legend argued that gun control legislation should be passed urgently in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting:
— John Legend (@johnlegend) October 2, 2017
Actress Jessica Chastain was as political as it gets while reminding Americans what’s at stake in national elections.
VOTE THEM OUT https://t.co/TcXE6kbnBi
— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) October 2, 2017
In case celebrities were wondering, this isn’t really a “debate.” Individuals have the right to defend themselves from criminals and, as the nation’s Founders pointed out, the government itself. As Locke wrote:
“I should have a right to destroy that which threatens me with destruction: for, by the fundamental law of nature, man being to be preserved as much as possible, when all cannot be preserved, the safety of the innocent is to be preferred.”
Let us all also not forget that governments are not only notoriously inefficient, but they are also not omnipresent. It also should go without saying that Americans should not wish for the government to be omnipresent, or omnipotent, as they were in murderous totalitarian societies.
If celebrities really support equality, then they should support the equalizer of force that comes from a legally armed citizen being able to fend off or eliminate a lethal intruder attacking him or his friends and family.
At public forums and even military bases where guns have been heavily regulated, mass shootings have broken out, tragically claiming multiple lives; numerous times, legally armed citizens have put a halt to them. As for those who claim the U.S. has an extraordinarily high level of mass shootings for an “advanced industrial nation,” there are a few things to consider.
The U.S. by far leads the world in private firearms ownership, and it isn’t even close. That being said, the U.S. is seventh in the world in mass shootings when corrected for population, according to OECD figures. Despite a surge in gun ownership, the homicide rate overall has fallen steeply for decades; although gun ownership has increased 56 percent since 1993, the homicide rate has been cut in half.
In other words, mass shootings are outliers whose lethality only threatens a marginal fraction of the population each year. Far deadlier than killings by mass shootings, which have claimed 949 victims over 50 years, according to a Mother Jones survey, or murders by automatic rifles — indeed, all rifles combined — are killings from knives, as well as hands, feet, and fists.
Firearms are a sensible method for individuals to defend themselves. It is sad that an armed American did not put an end to Paddock’s murderous rampage sooner.