Late on Sunday 1st October, emergency services were called to deal with a shooting incident on the Las Vegas strip. What was to transpire would become the deadliest mass shooting incident in modern American history.
The atrocity that took place claimed the lives of 59 people and injured over 500 others as the perpetrator, identified as 64 year old Stephen Paddock, opened fire on a crowd of concert goers from a hotel room on the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel.
Police and SWAT teams responding to the incident said that Stephen Paddock shot himself after committing his crime but investigations into the shooting showed that he had over 23 weapons which included both handguns and a variety of semi and fully automatic rifles.
The sheer devastation and brutality of the shooting has caused shockwaves across the US and from onlookers and media commentators here in the UK. Inevitably, in the aftermath of the atrocity, familiar discussions and political debates have resurfaced around categorizations of ‘terrorism’ and the ongoing debate around gun control.
Despite having the hallmarks of a terrorist attack and unfortunate familiarities with recent atrocities that have taken place in Europe, police investigations have still not determined a motive for the attack. However, investigators have said that Stephen Paddock was not linked to any international organisations.
The fundamental issue with the term ‘terrorism’ is highlighted by Nevada State Law, under which this attack is deemed to be terrorism as it states an “act of terrorism means any act that involves the use or attempted use of sabotage, coercion or violence which is intended to cause great bodily harm or death to the general population”. What this definition doesn’t include is a reference to ‘political or ideological motivations’, something that does exist within central government definitions. This lack of uniformity in the definition around terrorism leads to the frustration expressed online following attacks of mass violence. Given the media’s role in presenting the facts of events and in dictating contemporary usage of certain words and phrases, you can see why accusations of ‘double standards’ are leveled at them in the wake of what people deem to be inconsistencies in reporting similar events.
The Las Vegas shooting, another in a long line of gun attacks, has also caused an upsurge in debates around gun control and America’s infamous 2nd Amendment. There is no doubt about the influence of gun lobbies in American politics and incidents like this one serve to highlight where the challenge lies for the pursuit of reforms in legislation and access to guns.
Muslim faith leaders and social activists have also lent their voice to discussions, both expressing their grief at the atrocity and also commenting on the role of media, the notion of terrorism and the need to come together as a community in the wake of atrocities such as this.
Shaykh Yasir Qadhi posted the following on his Facebook
My last post, on #whiteprivilege, was shared by more people than almost any post on this page, and reached over 15…
Do you know what #whiteprivilege is?It is to murder over 50 people and injure 450, only to have authorities claim,…
Social justice activist, Linda Sarsour posted
The next time someone says "don't make this political, people are dead" I am going to go OFF. How many people have to be…
Shaykh Omar Suleiman, head of the Yaqeen Institute posted
An awful day in American history. The madness must stop. #LasVegasI will be working with other leaders in Dallas to…
Shaykh Haroon Sidat expressed his grief on his Twitter with the following
Shaykh Abdul Hameed posted