Las Vegas shooting from a British viewpoint

Las Vegas is the scene today of slaughter and carnage. Whenever there’s a mass shooting in America I feel deeply saddened, but most of all I feel incensed and I feel deep outrage. Not so much because one screwed up individual has opened fired on innocent lives – although God knows that’s terrible enough – but because the American government has allowed this to happen.

50 people were killed today and more than 400 wounded when a gunman opened fire from his hotel room in the Mandalay. It is the deadliest attack in USA history and the world stands in shock, but it won’t be the last time a mass shooting happens. Until the American government has the strength, resolve, courage and forcefulness to call for a compulsory national firearms amnesty and revoke the second amendment of the American Constitution “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” more lives will be lost.

300 million in America own a handgun. I was horrified to listen to one commentator today say that “the solution to the Vegas shooting is to allow more people to carry guns.” And another commentator said “if we take the gun away they’ll only develop a bomb.” Folk… this is mental, get a grip, step away from your age old attitudes because it’s beginning to wear thin with us over the pond. Guns are responsible for 30,000 deaths in the U.S each year and only 26% support a ban according to a recent Gallup Poll. What is happening to you guys? It seems as though you’ve become numb to mass violence. It’s tragic you say, but then you move on and accept the status quo because that’s the easy thing to do.You believe your politicians when they tell you there’s no solution. You don’t like to be told what to do, you like freedom from the constraints of the state telling you how to live your lives but government ultimately, not the gun will protect you, through a change in the law, putting a halt to these needless, pointless killings.

I loved Las Vegas when I visited the city in the mid 70s and again in 2015. The city had changed out of all recognition in those forty years. I would hate to think that visitors are put off by what has happened but sometimes they are. Las Vegas is a curious party and gambling city rising in the Nevada desert.

My latest novel, “Holiday” is in part set in Las Vegas. It’s a bit Bridget Jones Diary and a bit Bill Bryson. Here are a few quotes.

First glimpse of Las Vegas:

“The dry heat slaps us as we leave the air-conditioned airport and queue for a yellow taxi. It’s an airless heat, the type you get when you open the oven door to a roasting turkey. Small red boulders and palm trees line the route leading from the airport. The Mandalay Hotel glitters in the distance under the intense sun. I can see the replica Statute of Liberty and a Disney Castle and a massive lion in gold. Several tower blocks look like tubes of tin foil.”

Luxor Hotel:

We arrive at our hotel, the Luxor, a black pyramid, gleaming like a giant beetle against a violet sky. It’s like walking into a vast shopping centre, cruise ship, London museum or a multiplex cinema foyer. I can’t decide which. On an upper floor there’s a collection of artefacts from the Titanic. This is a fitting place for the collection because the hotel is titanic in size. Two escalators sweep from the central concourse up to a mezzanine level where there are various eateries. I have never been inside such a gigantic hotel before and we stand in awe, spinning in circles, taking it all in and snapping photos in the dim light, at this spectacular edifice. Blimey and we’ve not even seen our rooms yet. Ray has wandered off, typical of him. There’s a long Disney length queue weaving up and down and around a series of posts. At a quick guess I reckon there are as many as eighty people waiting to check in. Ten members of staff are managing check-in desks.

The whole of humanity in one city:

“From the upper floor I watch as they stream through the stuttering automatic doors. It’s like a bizarre parade of human hippos and whales. There are black jellied creatures with wobbly ripples, little white men with big pot bellies, here for the heart attack grills and the stack of maple pancakes, for this is fat friendly city. They’re puffing and groaning with the weight of their bags, mopping their brows as they join the queue for check-in. It’s a ghastly sight; a pageant of the world’s top repugnants.”

History of Las Vegas:

“Las Vegas was founded in 1905. It was a railroad town linking Los Angeles to Salt Lake City and was a refueling point and rest stop. The Navajo and other American Indian tribes lived here. Work began building the amazing Hoover Dam, bringing labourers and the population mushroomed and boosted the valley’s economy. At the same time casino gambling was legalised. In the 1930s divorce laws were liberalised in Nevada and couples could obtain a quickie divorce after just six weeks residency. These short term residents stayed at ranches taking in paid guests to help make ends meet. The first hotel-casino was built in 1941 to serve an army base. In the 1960s Howard Hughes, the hugely wealthy American entrepreneur, had a buying spree of hotels and other businesses and his presence paved the way for the corporate ownership of hotel-casinos that followed. Today the city is the fastest growing city in the United States and it is estimated that between four thousand and seven thousand people move here each month. Tourism and gaming are the two major employers.”

Here’s the link to “Holiday” and please continue to visit Las Vegas. It’s a great city!



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