Opinion Columns & Blogs

Horrors in Las Vegas and our incredible power to forget

With heavy hearts, people gather for a candlelight vigil at Town Square to remember those killed and injured the day after a lone gunman open fired onto a county music festival from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay Hotel, killing 59 and wounding 527 people, on Oct. 2 in Las Vegas. The Mandalay Bay hotel glows in the background. Soon David Haynes writes, we will be distracted and no one will remember Stephen Paddock’s name.
With heavy hearts, people gather for a candlelight vigil at Town Square to remember those killed and injured the day after a lone gunman open fired onto a county music festival from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay Hotel, killing 59 and wounding 527 people, on Oct. 2 in Las Vegas. The Mandalay Bay hotel glows in the background. Soon David Haynes writes, we will be distracted and no one will remember Stephen Paddock’s name. Los Angeles Times/TNS

We'll forget you existed, Stephen Paddock.

You are now the worst mass shooter in U.S. history, but we'll forget you.

You murdered nearly 60 people in Las Vegas on Sunday night. You injured more than 500. You sprayed bullets into a crowd of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents, beloved friends – happy people enjoying a country music concert.

You must have wanted to draw attention to yourself.

You won’t have it for long.

Police say you were a “lone wolf” – and that you had at least 17 firearms in your room. Your brother says: “We’re horrified. … We have no idea in the world.” Neither does anyone else.

The usual calls for tighter control of firearms that can inflict enormous carnage in seconds will emerge.

They will be met with the usual counterattack saying we need such weapons to protect ourselves from the likes of you.

And then, after a few days, a week or two at most, the president will be tweeting about the latest distraction and we will move on.

We will choose to be distracted, and we will forget.

Sandy Hook, Tucson, Aurora, Boston, Virginia Tech, Orlando, Oak Creek …

Some say an evil is loose in the world. I just don’t know.

But I do wonder how you navigated most of a lifetime to arrive, at age 64, in that room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. You were, it seems, just another guy. No significant criminal history, it seems.

Maybe no one knew you were becoming a danger. Maybe, no one saw it coming.

But I bet you sent signals, as did all of those who came before you.

Whatever we do learn in the next few days, we won’t learn why. You took that answer with you, if you had one.

Sandy Hook, Tucson, Aurora, Boston, Virginia Tech, Orlando, Oak Creek, Las Vegas …

Wherever your miserable soul has landed, Stephen Paddock, you will be forgotten, too. I can promise you that.

It’s what we do.

David D. Haynes is the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s editorial page editor. Email: david.haynes@jrn.com. Twitter: @DavidDHaynes.

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