Details continue to pour in about last night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, but for now one aspect in particular is a source of major confusion.
At National Review, David French observes that despite suspected shooter Stephen Paddock possibly using an illegal fully-automatic weapon, reportedly having an arsenal of more than ten rifles, and holing up in a rented corner room with a setup sophisticated enough to have cameras to alert him to approaching police, his relatives claim Paddock had none of the firearms interest, expertise, or military background one would expect to find in someone who went to Paddock’s lengths to prepare this attack:
“Not an avid gun guy at all…where the hell did he get automatic weapons? He has no military background,” gunman’s brother says pic.twitter.com/EMSKLQGYFM
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 2, 2017
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So, a person who’s “not a gun guy” has either expended untold thousands of dollars to legally purchase fully-automatic weapons, somehow found them on the black market, or purchased and substantially modified multiple semi-automatic weapons — and did so with enough competence to create a sustained rate of fire. This same person also spent substantial sums purchasing just the right hotel room to maximize casualties. I cannot think of a single other mass shooter who went to this level of expense and planning in the entire history of the United States.
And there was no real warning? His family was unaware? His brother also reported that the shooter had no meaningful political or religious affiliations. “He just hung out.” At the same time, however, there are reports that a woman told a group of concert-goers, “You’re all going to die tonight.”
The Federalist’s Sean Davis explains that contrary to the howling of knee-jerk leftist demagogues that this happened because it’s easier to buy guns than books in America, Paddock must have put in a lot of effort and expense for a guy who knows even less about guns than the Washington Post:
Under the [National Firearms Act], it is illegal for any private civilian to own any fully automatic weapons manufactured after May 19, 1986. Only registered Class 3 FFLs may make them, and then only for purchase by qualified state and federal agencies. There are no exceptions. According to the ATF’s official handbook on NFA laws and regulations, it’s not even legal to make new replacement parts for pre-1986 machine guns: “There is no exception allowing for the lawful production, transfer, possession, or use of a post-May 18, 1986 machinegun receiver as a replacement receiver on a weapon produced prior to May 19, 1986.”
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So what about pre-1986 machine guns? Are civilians permitted to own those? Yes, with a host of exceptions. The pre-1986 machine guns may be sold only by a Class 3 FFL and must be registered with the ATF. Easy peasy, right? Not really. The process of registering a NFA item with the ATF is costly, invasive, and time-consuming […]
And that’s just the federal registration process. We haven’t even discussed the cost of purchasing a legal machine gun. If you can find a legal, ATF-stamped, pre-1986 machine gun for less than $10,000, then you’re a miracle worker.
If true, big departure. Full auto costs $10,000+, requires deep FBI check; legal autos used 3 crimes since ‘34. (1) https://t.co/lVjkKwGGTV
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) October 2, 2017
It seems that either the brother’s claims are a load of garbage, or Paddock had help. And while it’s still early, there are signs that either could be the case — it turns out that Stephen is the son of former FBI Most Wanted List alum Patrick Benjamin Paddock, and even more incredibly, ISIS claims that Paddock carried out the shooting in their name (there are conflicting reports as to whether he converted to Islam or had mental problems that sparked this).
Again, there is a lot of unclear and disturbing information to sift through about this horrifying story. TFPP will continue to follow it as it unfolds.