09:38 GMT16 May 2021
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    The iconic Las Vegas Strip went dark on Monday night to mark the first anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in US history in which 58 people were killed and more than 400 people were wounded at a country music festival. The attacker, Stephen Paddock, fired at a crowd from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino.

    Sputnik has talked about the mass shooting in Las Vegas last year with Greg Shaffer, former FBI special agent, President of Shaffer Security Group and one of the leading policy experts in the prevention of domestic terrorism and active shooter events.

    Sputnik: What is the mood today? Are there any demonstrations? What are the people saying? What's the general atmosphere?

    Greg Shaffer: Well, the general atmosphere is one of mourning. It was a tragic day and we still continue to have the debates and each one is tragic for the victims and the injured and everybody is looking for reasons behind it; everybody is looking for solutions to prevent it. Today, especially in Las Vegas, it is a day of mourning, a day of reflection.

    Sputnik: A year after the tragedy, have there been any changes in terms of prevention of such incidents?

    Greg Shaffer: I know, in fact, I was just in that area last week talking to police officers that were involved in that shooting. I know that there have been dramatic changes in our response to these events, particularly in the Las Vegas Police Department and the Las Vegas County Sheriff's Department.

    READ MORE: WATCH Las Vegas Police Officer Shoot Through Windshield

    They did a great job in reviewing everything that happened and then taking lessons learned from that tragedy and making their department better, making their response better, but as far as prevention goes that is still the $20,000 question. We don't know why these things happen. I mean, obviously, the fault lies in the shooter who'd do these horrific acts, but what causes them to do that, why are we having these active shooter instances on average about once every three weeks, that really remains unknown.

    Sputnik: The tragic incident, of course, ignited, the gun law control debate, to what extent is this an issue of gun control?

    Greg Shaffer: Again, this is strictly my opinion, but I don't think gun control is the issue here. In a vast majority of these shootings stricter gun control would not have prevented the shooters from getting these weapons. In America, we are a gun society. That ship has sailed. Guns are a part of our culture and always will be. Stricter gun control is not the answer.

    The answer lies in better recognition of those who have metal health issues and the ability to put that information in some kind of database where it leads people with mental health issues that attempt to buy a weapon and then it gets flagged and they are unable to buy a weapon. It comes from educating people in what to look for as far as pre-incident indicators. Most of these shootings, they don't just come out of nowhere.

    READ MORE: #GunReformNow: Florida School Shooting Causes Twitter to Erupt in Debate

    The shooter does things in the weeks or days leading up to the shooting that give out signals that he is about to become violent. So gun control is not the issue. It is more education, it is more awareness and it is preventing those individuals who are identified as having possible mental health issues from getting access to weapons.

    Sputnik: You've just mentioned some key words there, awareness, flagging, data, would there be a single system, would there be possibly a body that could deal with a system of preventive measures that would encompass all of these, obviously, nothing like that exists at the current moment in time, but it could…

    Greg Shaffer: It could. There is currently a criminal database that we use to prevent people from getting weapons that have a criminal background, but the problem lies in our laws that prevent us from having information on the medical records of individuals. So in mental health issues, it is part of a person's medical records and right now there are too strict laws that prevent that information in those records to be given out.

    So we need to look at ways where we can have that information strictly on mental health to be a part of the criminal background check. So again when an individual walks into a gun store and attempts to buy a weapon he is somehow identified as having mental health issues and then unable to purchase the weapon.

    Sputnik: As an expert in prevention of domestic terrorism and active shooter events what other practical solutions could be proposed to deal with these issues?

    Greg Shaffer: Well, my number one comment when I teach anti-active shooter classes, anti-active shooter response courses the number one thing I tell my client is you have to move, you can't be stationary. Now, the Mandalay Bay Las Vegas shooting was an anomaly. That individual, and we still don't know reasons why he did this, the motivation is still unknown, but he took his shots from almost 400 meters away.

    READ MORE: US Cop Who Killed Man in His Own Home Fired — for Bad Behavior During Her Arrest

    That is a very long distance. On average the distance of an active shooter taking his shot is less than two feet. So that shows us that those individuals who hide underneath their desks, or hide in closets, or are frozen in fear, they are the ones that get killed. So if you're ever, unfortunately, caught in events similar to this, your best course of action is to move, is to run.

    The hit rate on a moving target with a handgun and most of these incidents are shooters with handguns and not with long guns as was in the Las Vegas shooting, the hit rate is 4%. So that means you have a 96% chance of not being shot just by running.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of Greg Shaffer and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    shooting, tragedy, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Las Vegas, US
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