Las Vegas Mass Shooting: It Could Have Been Worse

Oct 5, 2017
By: Jerry A. Goodson
In: Society

As a cop, gun guy, and former soldier, I've reviewed the limited information released on the mass shooting in Las Vegas.  As odd as it is to say, I'm thankful all the things liberals "hate" about guns were employed in this attack.  Had they not, there would have been a lot more people killed.

Fifty nine people were killed and over five hundred were injured a few days ago in Las Vegas when someone fired two hundred and eighty rounds into a crowd.

Listening to the audio of various cellphone videos from an analytical standpoint, I know that several of my peers who are "gun guys" and have served in combat were thinking to themselves, "I'm glad this guy was a dumb-ass who didn't know what he was doing."  For trained soldiers who have been to war, a "kill ratio" of 59 to 280 is horrible!  

Disclaimer:  I've seen the various conspiracy theories about the dead shooter just being a "patsy," there were multiple shooters, etc.  I'm not challenging the veracity of any of the information or counter-information presented.  I'm only looking at the numbers, layout, and tactics.

The Landscape

The layout of this scenario offered the shooter an optimum vantage-point.  This included the elevation of the 32nd floor of the hotel that was only 400 meters from a target-rich crowd.  The maximum effective range for a point target ("man-size" target in the military) is 550 meters.  The head is a small target, but the elevation allowed for attempts at head shots that still produced an increased likelihood of scoring a body shot if a head shot was missed.

It could be argued the advantage for the shooter would be increased if the distance was closed by 100 or 200 meters, but I would counter such a proposal by pointing out that would offer a lot quicker acquisition of the shooter's location.  

Spray and Pray

The rapid fire heard in the videos sounded like automatic rifles or rifles equipped with a "bump stock" were used.  This method is ineffective for maximizing kill ratios because it is impossible to accurately direct each round to an intended target beyond the first round at that distance.  The noise combined with the continuous muzzle flashes make it easier to determine the shooter's location.  The videos also indicated the shooter was firing from near the edge of the window opening he created, also making it easier to identify his location.  

The only advantage this gave the shooter was not lending him a decent kill ratio, but rather inciting fear and panic, and allowing his intended targets to seek cover and concealment from his firing position.  If killing was the intention of the shooter, his success didn't reach his full potential.  If terrorizing the crowd was his intention, he didn't have to kill as many people, and it's a stupid reason to die for.  I would surmise he wanted to "take as many people with him as a he could."  

On the battlefield, rapid fire isn't to maximize killing the enemy, but rather to suppress their fire as "cover" during troop movement/advancement.  The shooter employing rapid fire probably saved more lives because it is so reckless.  By "saved more lives," I'm not lending credit to the shooter because 59 people still died, but I'm saying he didn't kill as many people as he probably wanted.

Guns and More Guns

The media reports of exactly how many guns were recovered have been quite inconsistent, but they reflect there were between twenty and fifty guns.  An effective attack by an experienced "gun guy" wouldn't require more than two rifles.  The only reason two rifles would be needed to fire that many rounds would so the shooter could alternate between the rifles if one got too hot to continue firing.  I would doubt more than five rifles were even fired during the attack.  I can only assume the presence of so many rifles at the location served some other purpose that's out of the scope of this analysis.

Having so many guns did not contribute to the effectiveness of the attack.

How I Would Have Done It

First and most importantly, I wouldn't do it.

For the sake of argument, the number of kills to the number of rounds fired would have been drastically increased if the shooter fired single controlled and aimed shots.  If he fired from further in the room so that his field of view was narrowed to just the target area and spaced out his shots by just a couple of seconds, it would have been a lot more difficult to determine his location.  This would allow the shooter more time to kill more people (delayed law enforcement response) and wouldn't allow the targets to know which way to seek cover.  

I would also pick targets near the exits.  People fleeing from danger tend to avoid going where they perceive the danger to exist.  With dead bodies near the exits, the crowd would avoid going that way.  This would lead to the people crowding towards the stage, and with the crowd "compressed," it would be much easier to kill more of them by reducing the chance of missing targets altogether.  By psychologically directing the crowd, it also increases the chances of them killing each other by crushing in their efforts to escape.

Parting Shots

Fifty nine people were killed by two hundred and eight rounds over the course of fifteen minutes in a target-rich environment by an inexperienced shooter.  Comparing this attack with previous attacks where rapid fire wasn't employed, it's easy to see how the death toll could have been much higher, and this attack could have been worse.

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