Passing largely without notice this past week, the FBI concluded their investigation into the mass shooting in Las Vegas. After a lengthy, massive inquiry, they were forced to admit that we will likely never know what the shooter’s motivation was. There are plenty of theories floating around, but nothing from the monster himself or any definitive indication from anyone who knew him. This is an obvious source of frustration for plenty of people, particularly in the media. (WaPo)
The gunman who killed 58 people in Las Vegas in 2017 was not fueled by any “single or clear motivating factor,” the FBI said, mirroring the conclusions of local police who said they could not determine what motivated the massacre…
After the massacre — the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history — investigators delved into Paddock’s life before the gunfire. They pored over his finances, spoke to people who knew him and studied his movements. In the end, the Las Vegas police said in a report last summer, these investigators said they could not answer why he carried out the attack.
The question of motive often lingers after mass shootings, as some of the people victimized by the attacks describe a desperate search for answers.
Rather than spinning our wheels on this question every time a tragedy takes place, perhaps we should focus more on preventative measures for the future instead of trying to figure out the mental and emotional dysfunction of a madman. When it comes to a case like the Vegas shooting, does it really matter all that much why he did it? Perhaps it might provide some slight amelioration of the grief the survivors are feeling as they try to work through their pain, but it doesn’t really change anything, does it?
A motive is very important for the police when they have a living suspect who is facing trial. It can be used to further persuade a jury and bring home a conviction. But the Vegas shooter was dead before the police could even put their hands on him. He was surrounded by the weapons used in the massacre. There is no question as to his guilt and no need to go to trial.
So, beyond use in front of a jury, what do we really gain from knowing a madman’s motive? Or perhaps the more appropriate question would be, what do we lose by not being able to identify it? If we learned that the Vegas shooter was suicidally depressed and angry at his ex-wife, how will that help us stop the next suicidally depressed ex-husband who decides to go off the rails without giving a hint to anyone else? We know the racist, hate-filled motives that drove the Charleston church shooter. That doesn’t bring the dead back to life nor is the news likely to curb the rage of anyone else with that sort of hatred flowing through their veins.
My point is that the inner workings of such badly damaged minds will never make sense to the sane. Demanding an answer to the question of “why” after such tragedies just seems pointless. The FBI wasn’t able to figure out the motive of the Vegas shooter. So be it. He’s dead and we should just leave him in the ashes of history.