The main Republican way to avoid talking about the role of guns in gun violence is to talk about mental health care (not that Speaker Ryan and Rep. Noem are going to do anything about mental health, either, but o.k.).
Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo acknowledges that mental health played a role in the terrible shooting his city suffered a month ago. But the “determining effect” behind that deadly mental illness may have been Las Vegas’s bread-and-butter, gambling:
Police say the man who shot and killed 58 people and injured more than 540 others in last month’s deadly massacre in Las Vegas was a status-obsessed narcissist who had lost a “significant amount of wealth” in the last two years, something authorities now believe may have been a “determining factor” in the Oct. 1 attack.
In a wide-ranging interview with KLAS-TV, the local CBS affiliate, Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo said gunman Stephen Paddock was a successful real estate investor and prolific gambler whose wealth had fluctuated over the years. But, according to the sheriff, Paddock had been losing money since September 2015, triggering “bouts of depression.”
“This individual was status-driven, based on how he liked to be recognized in the casino environment and how he liked to be recognized by his friends and family. So obviously that was starting to decline in the short period of time, and that may have had a determining effect on why he did what he did,” Lombardo said. “He was going in the wrong direction” [Holly Bailey, “Portrait of Las Vegas Gunman: A Narcissist on a Losing Streak,” Yahoo News, 2017.11.03].
Remember, gamblers: the longer you play, the more surely you will lose. Casinos depend on math that makes life a losing streak for everyone but the house.
A gambling addict $80K in the hole shot up a casino in the Philippines last June; 37 people died of smoke inhalation from the fire he set.
Research shows a strong correlation between gambling and violence:
The researchers found a statistically significant link between gambling and violent behaviour, which became starker the more severe the gambling habit. Just over half of pathological gamblers, 45 per cent of problem gamblers, and 28 per cent of ‘casual gamblers’ reported some form of physical fight in the past five years.
In contrast, among the non-gamblers, only 19 per cent reported being involved in violence.
Additionally, gambling was associated with an increased likelihood of weapons being used in acts of violence, with more than a quarter in the pathological category, 18 per cent of problem gamblers, and seven per cent of non-problem gamblers reporting weapon usage [University of Lincoln (UK), “Gamblers More Prone to Violent Behavior,” Science Daily, 2016.09.06].
Other research shows legalized gambling leads to violent crime and other problems:
Melissa Kearney, an economist at the University of Maryland, released a literature review in 2005 summarizing work on gambling done to date. A study by Maryland’s William Evans and Julie Topoleski that focused on Indian casinos found that they created a significant number of jobs. The ratio of jobs available to adults increased, on average, by 5 percent. This in turn lead to a 2 percent decline in mortality, as residents’ economic conditions improved.
But the casinos also lead to a plethora of social ills, including increased substance abuse, mental illness and suicide, violent crime, auto theft and larceny, and bankruptcy. The latter three all increased by 10 percent in communities that allowed gambling [Dylan Matthews, “Studies: Casinos Bring Jobs, But Also Crime, Bankruptcy, and Even Suicide,” Washington Post, 2012.10.30].
Casinos themselves may not result in increased crime rates in their neighborhoods, but that may be because police patrol around casinos more frequently. Las Vegas ranks 28th for violent crime rates out of 76 American cities with populations over a quarter million, better than Miami, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Minneapolis but worse than New York, Boston, Seattle, and St. Paul.
Second Amendment absolutism makes a rational conversation about restricting guns impossible in Congress. So how about a discussion of restricting the gambling that may have pushed the Las Vegas shooter to reclaim his narcissistic self-esteem in a final act of male power projection?