News Brief: Investigating The Shooter's Motive, NRA Endorses Regulations

Oct 6, 2017
Originally published on October 6, 2017 10:10 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Been dealing with the aftermath of the nation's worst mass shooting in generations. Las Vegas can draw on the experience of other cities.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

On the one hand, knowing you're not the only city to suffer this kind of thing can be reassuring in a way. On the other hand, it is gut-wrenching. There have been enough mass shootings that Vegas can learn from Tucson or Charleston or San Bernardino or Orlando. Clark County emergency manager John Steinbeck says Las Vegas is getting advice from cities elsewhere.

JOHN STEINBECK: They've given us a footprint as to what to expect over the next months and even years. This is not something that we're going to walk away from anytime soon. And we're realistic with those timeframes.

INSKEEP: So what's a city do now? Let's talk about that with NPR's Sarah McCammon, who's in Las Vegas. And, Sarah, what is the city learning from the past?

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: So, as we heard, they're learning from other people who've been through this. And that's a growing list of cities. Las Vegas officials have reached out to places like Orlando and San Bernardino in particular. Some of those city officials have come and spent time here, working with the officials in Las Vegas. And John Steinbeck, the Clark County emergency manager we heard from earlier - he says that they've given Vegas officials a sense of what to expect and especially the sense that it's going to take a long time to get through this.

Aside from sort of the - you know, the emotional aspect of coping and helping people heal, one of the specific questions they're looking for guidance on is just how to disperse these funds that are being raised for the victims. City officials met yesterday to talk about that question. Donations have just been pouring in. More than $13 million total - an amount that keeps growing. So they're trying to figure out the best ways to spend and disperse that money amongst the victims' families and survivors.

INSKEEP: Thirteen million dollars - a lot of money. But when we talk about 58 dead, hundreds of wounded, you realize that might actually not add up to that much help for any individual, depending on how it's distributed. What's it like...

MCCAMMON: True.

INSKEEP: ...Sarah, just walking around Las Vegas right now?

MCCAMMON: Well, it's really clear, you know, that this is on people's minds. You know, I hopped in some, you know, ride share rides yesterday. And everybody was talking about it. Everybody seemed to have some connection to it. One driver told me she'd been driving down the strip at the time and had to duck in her car. Another driver told me that he'd been at the festival where this happened the day before. And it, you know, hit really close to home for him. So, you know, people are mourning. They're busy putting together memorials. And there's a memorial garden that's opening up later today, among lots of other things people are doing just to try to show support and grieve.

INSKEEP: Is it any clearer what the motivation of the shooter, Stephen Paddock, was?

MCCAMMON: That is the big question. And, you know, Steve, it's been a pretty quiet 24 hours on that front. There have been some reports that the shooter may have been casing other music festivals in other cities. We know a hotel in Chicago did have a reservation in the shooter's name back in August around another music festival. That's something police are aware of. But that's all we really know. And it is the big question.

INSKEEP: Sarah, thanks for your work. Really appreciate it.

MCCAMMON: Thank you.

INSKEEP: NPR's Sarah McCammon is in Las Vegas. Now, the attack there leaves Congress here in Washington considering what, if anything, to do about guns.

MARTIN: Yeah. Republicans have blocked any new gun restriction for years. In this case, they are indicating they could be open to some kind of change. Several say they don't see a point in these things called bump stocks, which allow a semi-automatic weapon to fire almost like a machine gun.

INSKEEP: Yeah.

MARTIN: Stephen Paddock, the shooter in Las Vegas, had a dozen of these on hand when he opened fire on that concert. Now even the NRA, the National Rifle Association, says it is open to thinking about regulating these bump stocks.

INSKEEP: OK. Open to thinking about regulating.

MARTIN: Caveats.

INSKEEP: What does that really mean? NPR's Susan Davis is here to tell us about that. Hi, Sue.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Hey. How you doing?

INSKEEP: So how big a deal is that from the NRA?

DAVIS: You know it really remains to be seen because we don't know what the outcome of it's going to be yet. It's important to note that what they called for was the executive branch to review regulations, specifically the Bureau for Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. They did not call for Congress to act. They did not call for new legislation.

INSKEEP: Didn't use the word ban, either.

DAVIS: And they didn't use the word ban, either - just review. So the questions will be, will the administration take any changes to regulations? And if they do, does that give Congress a pass?

INSKEEP: I just want to put this right on the table. When you're somebody like the NRA, and you're under pressure - and this can happen with lots of different interest groups - and someone is demanding something of you, you can say, well, I'm kind of open to the most moderate possible change as a way of killing time until you can just kill any change at all. Is the NRA serious? Are Republicans serious about wanting to do something on this issue where they really don't generally agree that it's a good idea to act?

DAVIS: What was notable on Capitol Hill was that there were a number of Republicans and prominent Republicans saying they were open to legislation to banning these bump stocks. That is the first time in response to these mass shootings, of which we've had many - of which I've covered congressional responses to many - that Republicans have been open to gun legislation, not just mental health legislation, which they say is generally the cause of these shootings.

INSKEEP: So there is something happening here, however small.

DAVIS: There is something happening. It just is not clear to me yet that Congress is going to act.

INSKEEP: Well, let's listen to somebody who's not entirely sure that he wants to act. It is Steve Scalise. He's the Republican congressman who survived a shooting over the summer. He recently returned to work, and he's not sure how far this should go. He was talking on NBC's "Meet The Press."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MEET THE PRESS")

STEVE SCALISE: I mean, look, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi already said she wants it to be a slippery slope. She doesn't want to stop at bump stocks. They want to go out and limit the rights of gun owners. And so I do think it's a little bit early for people to say they know what to do to fix this problem.

INSKEEP: What do you hear there, Sue?

DAVIS: You know, this is what I remind people when we talk about this gun debate in Congress. It's important to remember that a majority of Congress simply does not believe that gun owners' rights should be restricted and that that view has been reinforced in elections. There has been three elections since Gabby Giffords was shot. There has been two elections since Newtown. And, consistently, when the gun issue was on the ballot, Republicans win. So there is not a lot of incentive here to act.

INSKEEP: Meanwhile, Democrats are saying this is such a minor thing to ban bump stocks. Even if they could do that, there's so much more they would like to do.

DAVIS: It is - this is one issue where we could potentially see bipartisan agreement. But even that seems unlikely.

MARTIN: Plus, there's still no motive in the Las Vegas shooting. And so guns are the thing that people are focusing on. As soon as you start to understand the contours of what was motivating this shooter, that might - you might see the NRA stepping back from pushing this particular regulation.

DAVIS: Absolutely.

INSKEEP: OK. NPR's Susan Davis, thanks for coming by.

DAVIS: You bet.

INSKEEP: One of the more powerful men in Hollywood has apologized for how he used that power.

MARTIN: Harvey Weinstein is a big-time studio executive behind some of the most celebrated films in Hollywood history - "Pulp Fiction," "Good Will Hunting." Seems like every time you turn on an award show on TV, someone is thinking him - big names like Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lawrence or Meryl Streep. Now some people are seeing him in a new light. The New York Times has reported Weinstein's settlements with multiple women who said he sexually harassed them, essentially asked for sex in exchange for helping their careers.

INSKEEP: The Washington Post's pop culture correspondent is on this story. Elahe Izadi is her name. She's been following his career for a long time. And she's in our studios. Good morning.

ELAHE IZADI: Good morning.

INSKEEP: Having followed Harvey Weinstein, were you surprised?

IZADI: This has been referred to as one of Hollywood's worst-kept secrets, an open secret. Once the story drop, we saw, you know, executives coming out - media executives and reporters saying, oh, this was our white whale. You know, we've been following this story. And there have been reports about many journalists over the years trying to crack open this story. So I think there's kind of a mixed response - as, wow, The Times has this big, bombshell report. And at the same time, it doesn't strike a lot of people who have been following him in these rumors and gossip as a total surprise out of left field.

INSKEEP: And I hate to say it's almost - as described, almost stereotypical behavior for a studio executive - inviting women into a room or into a hotel room and saying, I'll help with your career if you do certain things for me. Is this normal for Hollywood? Was it normal for Hollywood in generations past, as Harvey Weinstein now says? And is it normal even now?

IZADI: Well, yeah. I mean, a lot of what people are talking about now is that notion of the casting couch...

INSKEEP: Yeah.

IZADI: ...And how there was almost this kind of romantic notion placed upon it for many years. And, also, folks are saying, you know, this points out that Hollywood actually isn't a very progressive industry necessarily, despite what people might say at awards shows. And Harvey Weinstein himself puts himself out there as a liberal who supports liberal causes. He's fundraised for Hillary Clinton. So, you know, there's kind of this dichotomy there right now.

But the big news here is the settlements - this revelation of eight settlements - in addition to Ashley Judd coming on the record and saying that Harvey Weinstein made unwanted advances towards her. And I think with a story like this, as we've seen in the past with stories about big, important men - media moguls - once one of these stories comes out, it kind of opens the floodgates. And if there are other stories, it kind of shakes the tree loose.

INSKEEP: Very briefly, what do you make of Weinstein's statement? He says, I'm really sorry. I'm trying to get better. I've hired a coach. I'm really angry, so I'm going to attack the NRA to get my anger out. And, meanwhile, his lawyer says he's suing The New York Times. What do you make of all that?

IZADI: Yeah, and he also misquotes a Jay Z lyric in that, too.

INSKEEP: (Laughter).

IZADI: So it kind of goes all over the place and is kind of crisis management. It goes from kind of being apologetic to saying he's going to sue The Times for $50 million. So it's a little all over the place. And it's unclear exactly the narrative he's trying to push. But it is important to say that his lawyer said that he denies many of the accusations. Not all - many.

INSKEEP: Can he survive this, since it is his company?

IZADI: Unclear. It's the Harvey Weinstein company. It's private but - and he has a board of directors. But his brand might become so toxic that he can't weather this.

MARTIN: You need more women in Hollywood. You need more women producers. You need more women directors. You need more women who are in control the power in Hollywood.

INSKEEP: Solutions from Rachel Martin this morning.

MARTIN: There you go - my two cents.

INSKEEP: And Elahe Izadi of the Washington Post, thanks for coming by. Appreciate it.

IZADI: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF RJD2'S "FANCY CAR (INSTRUMENTAL VERSION)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.