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With 59 dead and more than 500 injured, the Las Vegas massacre is beyond horrific. Even so, it could have been worse in several ways. Suppose gunman Stephen Paddock had been giving off clear warnings of his deadly intentions, which police ignored. Suppose police had intercepted communications of his mass-murder plan, then did nothing to stop it. Suppose the President of the United States had denied that the attack was gun violence. Suppose that the president declined to meet with victims of the shooting, and made it more difficult for them to get the medical treatment they needed. All that happened with the massacre at Ford Hood, Texas, on November 5, 2009.
Gunman Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, billed himself as a “Soldier of Allah,” a red flag that authorities ignored. Major Hasan was in communication with Anwar al-Awliki, a jihadist who tutored three of the 9/11 attackers, about ways to kill Americans. The FBI had Hasan’s emails to the terrorist but did absolutely nothing to stop Hasan from killing 13 unarmed soldiers, including Private Francheska Velez, 21, who was pregnant. The attack claimed more than twice as many deaths as the first attack on the World Trade Center.
Hasan fired with legally purchased handguns and wounded more than 30. The White House did not call this mass murder, terrorism, or even gun violence, all of which were true. The White House called it “workplace violence” but it was more than an absurdity. The workplace violence designation kept the victims from getting the medals they deserved and the medical treatment they needed. And the 44th president declined to meet with Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, an African American severely wounded in the attack. Major Hasan got better treatment and in the early going he kept his rank and the Army continued to pay his full salary.
Supposed the Trump administration had done all that with the Las Vegas massacre. That would have rubbed salt in the wounds, and nobody would have stood for it. So the gravity of a massacre is not always a matter of numbers. Government is supposed to protect the public from mass murderers, not ignore and enable them. President Trump should track down all government agents who failed to stop Nidal Hasan and tell them “your fired.”