It is impossible to understand what happened in Las Vegas.
Americans will try again, of course, to make sense of something that makes no sense. But we can't. This is inexplicable.
One gunman with too many super-deadly weapons at his disposal opened fire from a 32nd-floor hotel window, indiscriminately shooting and killing fans assembled below at a country music festival.
Tens of thousands of concert-goers were endangered.
The death toll for the massacre now stands at 59 and could grow. More than 500 other people were injured and dozens of them remain in critical condition in Vegas hospitals.
The numbers are staggering. The casualties here at home on a Sunday night were reportedly greater than the U.S. has suffered in any single day of either of the long-running wars in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Many more might have died in Las Vegas, had authorities there not breached the room where they found the killer, dead, amid a stack of 23 guns and ammunition enough to have continued the assault for much longer.
The rain of bullets lasted only a handful of minutes but doctors who treated the wounded described damage so severe the bullets had to have come from high-powered weapons not usually seen on the street.
Veterans and others in the crowd had also recognized the sound of rapid fire from automatic weapons that are supposed to have been banned in this country, weaponry meant for war but unleashed on music lovers, young and old, packed into a concert.
No one knows why it happened. Authorities have announced no possible motive for the 64-year-old retired accountant's decision. He killed himself as police breached his sniper's nest.
All we'll ever know about the perpetrator of the worst mass shooting in this country's history is what investigators are able to scratch out from his past.
If his goal was infamy, he achieved it, at least for now. He killed and injured more people than any of the other killers have managed in the U.S., with its too-long history of mass murders in places like Columbine, Charleston, Orlando and, of course, Newtown.
It was Newtown, Conn., where 20 6-year-olds were mowed down with six adults in their schoolhouse. It was the incident everyone just knew was going to lead to changes in the laws that make guns, especially assault-style weapons, so readily available in this country.
It didn't. The National Rifle Association lobby just got stronger and beat back every attempt to do something to better regulate gun sales and control access to the weapons of war.
More mass shootings happened, including the one in the church in Charleston and the night-club massacre in Orlando.
Until Sunday, Orlando was the worst of America's mass shootings. What happened in Las Vegas now claims that spot. And you just know there is someone somewhere, maybe somewhere close to you, stockpiling weapons to try to claim that crown and kill even more innocents.
What are Americans supposed to do? Stop going to concerts? Or school? Or church? Where are we truly safe from a would-be assassin?
Don't argue that we just need to arm ourselves to thwart the bad guys with guns. If every one of the 22,000 concert goers in Las Vegas had been carrying a concealed weapon of his own (and many surely were in Nevada), they couldn't have stopped the man in the window from taking so many lives and injuring so many more.
Many did heroically step in, at great risk to themselves, to help those struck by this assassin's bullets. They're credited with saving lives or shielding others from the ongoing attack and helping them escape the venue. Again, this awful attack might have been worse without their quick intervention.
In the aftermath of it all, this nation is grieving for those affected by the tragedy in Las Vegas and the perception at least that nothing can be done to stop this sort of thing from happening.
There are stirrings, however, that suggest another battle over gun control is coming, another push perhaps for universal background checks and more.
Late-night comics and talk-show hosts were quick to use their wide-reaching platforms on Monday to encourage the president and the Congress to do something -- anything -- in response.
Polls have long showed that most Americans, even most NRA members, favor reasonable gun-safety laws.
Could Las Vegas be the gun-violence event that will persuade the Congress to listen to their constituents, not the NRA? Will this horrific casualty count make any difference?
Commentary on 10/04/2017
Print Headline: Is the time right now?