A gunman armed with high-powered weaponry sprayed bullets at a rate of about 560 rounds per minute.
His finger on the trigger of the machinery of murder unleashed more than nine rounds every second toward a crowd of thousands.
Over and over and over again.
Far too infrequently did he need to pause to reload or grab another rifle from the 19-gun arsenal, all of it purportedly legal in almost-anything-goes Nevada, at his side.
In 10 minutes, 58 people were murdered. They never had a chance. In 10 minutes, 500 people were injured. They never had a chance.
This, Mr. President, is true American carnage — to borrow the phrase from the inaugural address in which Donald Trump urged action against “crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives.”
You can bet a billion that if 58 people were killed in one Chicago weekend, Trump would be raising holy hell, and urging immediate action. You can bet, too, that if a radical Muslim terrorist ended 58 lives, Trump would be turning over tables.
Instead, Monday, in asking Americans to unite in mourning against those cut down by the murderous maniac in Las Vegas, the President suggested that the nation accept the fact that some problems have no solutions.
“The answers do not come easy,” he said.
No? Within hours of a June terrorist attack in London, Trump proclaimed, “We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!” (Never mind that Trump’s travel ban wouldn’t have stopped that attacker.)
The next day, he tweeted, “We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don’t get smart it will only get worse.”
Those exact words apply far more accurately to the mass shootings that have caused incalculable suffering 273 times in the first 275 days of 2017.
It was just five years ago that an insane 20-year-old walked into an elementary school and killed 20 first-graders and six educators.
Mass shooting at Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas
It was only 16 months ago that a 29-year-old radical Islamist with personal grudges killed 49 people in an Orlando nightclub.
Sixty-four-year-old Stephen Paddock, who just murdered 58 people from the 32nd floor of his Las Vegas hotel room — a safe 400 yards away from his target — now joins their ranks.
Three mass killers of starkly different backgrounds, mindsets and motives had one thing in common: All easily obtained the means to end and maim human life with industrial efficiency.
All three men wielded military-grade firearms that propel bullets at a rate other weapons cannot match. That tear apart flesh and pulverize bone and burst arteries.
It is humanly impossible to interrupt every downward spiral toward violence, whether entered through terrorist radicalization or mental illness or some other cause. But we can and must stop more of the deadliest weapons from falling into civilian hands.
Yet members of Congress, having repeatedly watched the nation writhe in pain — having even writhed in pain themselves — do nothing.
Remembering the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting
They even continue to parrot the myth that flooding the nation with more weapons will make America safer — a tragicomic mismatch for a massacre where the killer safely perched 32 stories and 400 yards away from his victims.
The population of this country is done with politicians who regurgitate the pablum of the National Rifle Association.
Sixty-eight percent — including 48% of gun owners — want to ban assault rifles nationwide.
Seventy-four percent — including 44% of gun owners — want to ban high-capacity magazines.
Congress couldn’t care less. Instead, they are ready to make it easier for Americans to buy silencers, which would make mass shootings easier to pull off, and armor-piercing ammo. And to force states with strong gun laws to honor concealed carry permits from those where almost anyone can get one.
And the President, who subscribed to reasonable gun safety regulations before opportunistically converting to Second Amendment absolutism, plays along while people die.
We are forced to ask when he and they will snap out of it: Perhaps when the number of dead from a single massacre hits triple digits?