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Politics

Why pray for comfort after mass shootings when we could act instead?

By Rex Huppke, Tribune Content Agency on

I don't care whether the evil maniac who slaughtered at least 58 people in Las Vegas was a Muslim or a Christian, a Democrat or a Republican, a bigot or a terrorist.

I don't care whether you call what he did -- the worst mass shooting in American history -- a terror attack or an act of radical Islamic terrorism or a massacre or a hate crime.

What I care about is this: Without legally purchased military-style rifles, he would've just been a guy sitting in a hotel room.

Those first three paragraphs are almost exactly what I wrote on June 16, 2016, after 49 people were gunned down in an Orlando gay bar. Only a few things changed: the number killed, which has gone up; the location of the shooting; "rifle" to "rifles" because this shooter had several; and where the shooter was located -- a hotel room instead of a bar.

I'm sure at some point, in a month or a year or two years, I'll be able to write those same three paragraphs again, with minor changes to update the details of the new worst mass shooting in American history. And that's because the only thing more consistent than mass shootings is our unwillingness to learn anything from such tragedies.

Already we've been told the attack in Las Vegas, which also left more than 500 people at an outdoor concert injured, was an act of pure evil, and that evil can't be legislated. Already we've been told it's too soon to talk about gun control. Already we've been instructed that the only appropriate response, now and forever, is to send thoughts and prayers.

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I have to imagine that God, at this point in America's violent history, has heard enough prayers and is waiting for some to realize that humans were given brains and common sense with the expectation that those things would come in handy. Maybe God is wondering why we keep praying and don't start using our heads.

We'll learn more in the days to come about Stephen Craig Paddock, the 64-year-old Nevadan who, from the 32nd-floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, opened fire on a crowd at an outdoor country music concert. We'll learn where and how he got the guns -- as many as 10, according to authorities -- and whether he modified any of them from semi-automatic to fully automatic, increasing the speed with which he could murder innocents.

We'll learn what drove him, though as Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said Monday: "I can't get inside the mind of a psychopath."

We'll hear devastating stories of the victims and their families and uplifting stories of the bravery and compassion of first responders.

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