Good Guy Delusions and Las Vegas Shooting Conspiracy Theories

Dear Joel,

You have seen the Las Vegas shooting hoax and conspiracy theory internet posts? The gist of them is: It didn’t happen. It’s a false flag operation to gin up efforts to take away guns from law-abiding citizens. It wasn’t possible for one person to get that many guns to his hotel room undetected. It wasn’t possible for him to plan an attack that was so sophisticated. He couldn’t have circumvented the tight security of a casino. He couldn’t have gotten through the glass in his hotel window. A regular person couldn’t operate a gun that efficiently.

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 3.53.18 PM.png

Above, a meme articulating doubts about the Las Vegas shooting. I’ve lopped off the shooter’s head, which appears in the original. 

I don’t want to stereotype wingnuts, but the spots where I’ve tracked these posts are on Deplorable forums. Many of the posters are also believers in the “good guy with a gun myth”–the idea that if more of us were armed, we’d be safer. Bad guys wouldn’t even start something because they know they’d get shot down. (This ignores the fact that many mass shooters commit suicide at the end of their rampages; they’re not afraid of dying.) If they do, then good guys with guns will stop them. (This is demonstrably incorrect, but never mind that now.) There was no good guy with a gun who could have stopped Stephen Paddock, of course. At thirty some stories above the crowd, he was safe from every open-carrying Nevadan in the state.

I’m intrigued (okay, maybe disheartened is a better word) that people who don’t believe a mass murderer could commit a mass murder with a gun think that a good guy with a gun could prevent one. Somehow, these folks believe that they could, armed with a handgun, heroically kill a gunman without killing anyone else by accident (even though police miss their targets nearly 90% of the time in high stress situations), but they don’t believe that one person with 47 weapons can kill or wound more than 500 people within a matter of seconds.

I’m not sure what the corrective to this is. Better physics education? Mandatory classes in risk analysis and the psychology of self-delusion before you get to buy a gun? Verbally berating people to lower the misplaced self-confidence of significant portions of the population?




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s