EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is based on the official storyline given by the government and the media. It is accurate as to that version of events. However, this may or may not be what actually transpired. Regardless of what gun enthusiasts and professionals believe happened, didn’t happen, or who was responsible, the outcome was the same; bump stocks were banned, Americans lost freedom, gained no safety, and the inanimate object blamed was removed from the purview of law-abiding Americans.
Whose was the most dysfunctional psychopathic personality in human history? Hitler was certainly a contender. That guy was so evil as to have become an archetype. However, at least Adolph had a purpose of sorts. As twisted as it was der Fuehrer had a goal.
Not so much with Stephen Paddock. Paddock was simply an ink-hearted monster.
Stephen Paddock was born in April of 1953, the oldest son of Benjamin Paddock who was himself on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list for a time. As seems to always be the case, Stephen’s childhood was broken and tragic.
Stephen’s dad Benjamin was arrested for bank robbery in 1960 when Stephen was seven years old.
For all his many manifest faults, Stephen Paddock was a fairly adroit businessman. After stints with the US Postal Service and the IRS, he acquired several real estate holdings that made him a fair amount of money, more than $5 million over time. He also maintained an annual income of around $500,000. His principal weakness, however, was high stakes gambling.
Stephen Paddock’s game of choice was video poker, which he preferred to play alone. He would play throughout the night, preferring to sleep vampire-like during the day. Paddock openly disliked being in the sun.
Paddock was married twice but had no children and remained on good terms with his ex-wives. He traveled widely and maintained a private pilot’s license along with a pair of small planes. In the last decade of his life, he went on twenty different international cruises, many of them with his Filipino girlfriend.
Dissecting the Monster
Those who knew him well described Stephen Paddock as an atheist without any serious political convictions. He drank heavily, many times in the morning, and regularly took the anti-anxiety medication Valium. He seemed despondent and might have lost a substantial sum gambling, though this has never been definitively established.
In the year leading up to the infamous October 2017 Las Vegas shooting, Paddock purchased 55 firearms along with large quantities of ammunition. Two days before the massacre he was captured on a home surveillance system driving out into the desert to practice. Regular shooters in the areas where he lived never saw him socializing with other firearms enthusiasts.
Two weeks before the assault, Paddock sent his girlfriend back to her native Philippines with $100,000 to purchase a home. He was later seen with a prostitute. Six days before the shooting, Paddock checked into a pair of rooms in the Mandalay Bay Casino overlooking the site of the upcoming Route 91 Harvest country music festival. On the final day of the event, there were more than 22,000 people in attendance.
At around 10 pm an unarmed security guard named Jesus Campos was dispatched to investigate an open door alert in the vicinity of Paddock’s two suites.
Upon arrival, Campos found that a door on the 32d floor had been secured shut with an L-shaped bracket screwed into the frame. After reporting his findings he heard the sound of further drilling and went to investigate.
Paddock had planned his operation exhaustively over a period of months. He had arranged a baby monitor in the hallway on a room service cart to maintain surveillance.
At roughly 10:05 as Jesus Campos approached his rooms, Paddock fired roughly 35 rounds through the door. Campos took a bullet to the thigh but thought he had been hit by a pellet gun. At this point, hotel staff notified the Las Vegas Police Department.
Paddock broke out the windows to his suite with a hammer and opened fire on the unsuspecting concert-goers below. Officers later found accurate graphical depictions of the range to the concert venue along with estimates of ballistic performance of his weapons and appropriate target holdovers.
Over the next ten minutes, Stephen Paddock fired more than 1,100 rounds.
Paddock launched eight rounds toward the large above-ground fuel tank located some 600 meters away at McCarran International Airport. Two rounds connected with the tank, but only one penetrated. As jet fuel is predominantly kerosene and unlikely to ignite from such an insult, nothing further came of that effort.
The average range to his victims was around 450 meters. A security fence surrounding the venue prevented the crowd from escaping. In the chaos of the moment, it was impossible to determine the source of the fire. The end result was tragic beyond words.
Ten minutes after the carnage began it abruptly stopped. The first Law Enforcement officers arrived outside his room at around 10:12, but immediately thereafter the suite went quiet. At 11:20 SWAT teams breached the rooms with explosive charges and found Paddock dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound through his mouth. One member of the breach team inadvertently triggered a three-round burst during the assault, but no one was harmed.
58 people died as a direct result of the assault, 36 women and 22 men. The ages of the victims ranged from 20 to 67. 869 concert-goers were injured, some 413 via gunshot wounds or shrapnel. Stephen Paddock’s methodical attack was the largest mass shooting committed by a single individual in American history.
The police discovered 24 firearms in Paddock’s hotel room. He had ferried the cased weapons and support equipment up in several sorties, at times assisted by hotel staff. The room was littered with dozens of magazines to include several Surefire 100-round boxes.
Fourteen of his weapons were .223-caliber AR15-type semiautomatic rifles. There were two each from FN, Daniel Defense, LWRC International, and POF-USA, as well as three by Colt. A single example from Noveske, Christensen Arms, and LMT were recovered.
Paddock also had eight .308-caliber AR10 rifles along with a .308 Ruger bolt action and a Smith and Wesson Model 342 .38-caliber revolver.
Paddock’s AR10’s were equipped with bipods and high-end telescopic sights. His AR15’s included forward handgrips and bump-fire stocks. As Paddock had no criminal history, all of his weapons were legally purchased.
Paddock procured his guns from lawful sources in Nevada, Texas, Utah, and California. This means he had passed the most stringent background checks in the nation. Law officers later found ammonium nitrate, another 1,600 rounds of ammunition, and fifty pounds of Tannerite in his Hyundai Tucson SUV.
The Dreaded Bump Stock
In tragedy folks naturally want something to hate. As the shooter took his own wretched life, that something became bump stocks. A bump stock is a simple contrivance that appears at first brush to be an oversized rifle stock. A bump stock incorporates a mechanism that allows the rifle so mounted to reciprocate slightly as it fires. By applying forward pressure to the gun and allowing recoil to disengage the trigger these devices will produce the equivalent of automatic fire at the semiautomatic weapon’s theoretical cyclic rate.
Bump stocks are not particularly accurate, but they can be quite reliable in experienced hands. In the aftermath of the attack, the BATF controversially reclassified bump stocks as post-86 machineguns and demanded they be surrendered to the government. Estimates of the number of bump stocks already in circulation range from 280,000 to 520,000. As these devices were previously unregulated the exact number will never be known. As of this writing 680 of the stocks had actually been voluntarily abandoned to the BATF.
After an exhaustive investigation, Law Enforcement officials admitted that they had no idea what drove Stephen Paddock to do what he did. Researchers at Stanford University dissected his brain and reported it as grossly normal. Paddock had an obsession with cleanliness and potentially suffered from bipolar disorder. However, he refused to take psychotropic medications with the exception of Valium.
Psychologists who have evaluated his life retrospectively suspect Paddock exhibited alexithymia. This is a sub-clinical construct that involves an inability to identify or describe emotions within one’s self or others. While this trait is common among mass murderers alexithymia is not formally classified as a mental disorder. Alexithymia can be found in roughly ten percent of the population.
For those of us who understand firearms the reclassification of bump stocks as machineguns is simply asinine. The determined miscreant can accomplish the same end with a length of string and a Kalashnikov, Mini-14, or M1 Carbine. With more than a year to plan a guy of Stephen Paddock’s abilities and resources could have acquired a modest milling machine, taught himself to use it, and crafted his weapons from scratch.
For now, we simply have to wonder what exactly broke within this craptastic loser’s brain that made him shoot 471 innocent people attending a country music concert. In addition to his obvious personality defects, computer forensics investigators also found hundreds of images of child pornography on his laptop.
It appears Stephen Paddock was the ultimate unstoppable monster. Godless, soulless, emotionless, twisted, evil, and empty, Stephen Paddock was one of the most repugnant human beings ever to have drawn breath.