It’s been more than a year now since Stephen Paddock allegedly opened fire on concert-goers in Las Vegas from the Mandalay Bay Hotel. We say “allegedly” because the only the information we know for certain about Paddock is that he was found dead in a hotel room with a bunch of guns and ammo.
The FBI, the Vegas PD and the ATF have never provided conclusive evidence that Paddock fired any of the weapons in the room, including the handgun that killed him. When SWAT officers arrived on the 32nd floor of the hotel, there was no gunfire coming from Paddock’s room. SWAT spent several minutes dealing with a possible IED in the hallway before breaching the room, where they found Paddock dead on the floor.
Our intent is not to promulgate conspiracy theories about the shooting. It is simply a FACT that Paddock was found dead in the room, no one saw him fire a single shot, and no published reports on the autopsy have indicated whether Paddock even had gunpowder on him. You’d think he’d have been covered with it after firing hundreds, possibly thousands, of rounds. On top of this, the “official” story is that Paddock’s motive for the shooting is unknown.
Also, please don’t read this as a possible defense or apologetic for Stephen Paddock. This case is incredibly important because the Trump administration is very close to banning “bump stock” devices for semiautomatic rifles based on this case – and we do not even know if the Las Vegas shooter used a rifle with a bump stock attached to it!
The ATF, which is close to banning bump stocks, has released hundreds and hundreds of pages of documents related to the shooting, thanks to FOIA requests. Credit where credit is due, the ATF has been very forthcoming on the case – unlike the FBI, which has pulled its usual, “Derp! We don’t gots no records of that there shootin’.”
But the ATF’s latest document dump, released in July, raises a whole host of new questions about this bizarre shooting. Buried several hundred pages into the release, this astonishing statement appears in the official ATF report on the rifles recovered in the room:
“There are no external visual indications (i.e. automatic sear pin hole) that the weapons have been converted into machineguns. However, on-scene ATF personnel were not allowed to physically examine the interior of the weapons for machinegun fire-control components or known machinegun conversion devices such as Drop-In Auto Sears, Lightning Links, etc.”
What?! ATF personnel were not allowed to examine the interior of the weapons? Not allowed by who?
Examining the interior of the guns would provide two key pieces of information: Whether the guns had illegally been converted for automatic fire (making the entire bump stock argument null and void) and whether the guns had recently been fired (there would have been heavy gun powder residue, no?).
That’s not the only anomaly we picked up on in this *ugh* 728-page release. According to all published media reports on the incident, there were 23 firearms recovered in the hotel room, including 13 AR-15 type rifles with bump stocks attached to them.
The ATF report lists the following weapons recovered in Paddock’s hotel room:
- 6 AR-15 type rifles with bump stocks, all chambered in .223 or 5.56
- 1 bolt action hunting rifle
- 1 Daniel Defense DD5 rifle, chambered in 7.62×51, with no bump stock attachment
That’s eight rifles, so… where are the other 15 firearms? Seven of the unaccounted-for rifles were AR-15s with bump stocks, according to published reports. A handgun was found next to Paddock’s body, so that still leaves a total of seven firearms of some sort in the room that we have no details on.
If ATF agents did not examine the interiors of the rifles, how can they possibly be demanding to ban bump stocks? Was the AK variant in 7.62 converted to fully automatic, and was that rifle used in the shooting? Were any of the seven firearms we’ve been told nothing about used in the shooting? Were any of those rifles converted into machine guns?
We don’t know the answers to any of these questions. Apparently, the ATF doesn’t know either, because it wasn’t allowed to examine the firearms involved in the shooting!
Yes, bump stocks make semiautomatic rifles fire really fast, much like a machine gun. But this attachment was originally designed so that people with low mobility in their hands – disabled people and folks with arthritis – could fire a semiauto. If the federal government is going to ban bump stocks based on the Las Vegas shooting, we deserve straight, honest answers to all of these questions. If they can’t answer these questions, we’re just being fed another line of bull.
~ American Gun News