Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: October 2, 2017 Guest: Jon Ralston, Amy Goodman, Chris Murphy
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN: All right. Rachel Maddow here to continue MSNBC`s live coverage on the ground in Las Vegas. Take it away.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Chris.
Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
At first I thought I got the date wrong. We were working on trying to figure out why nobody noticed this man taking 20 long guns into his hotel room, plus at least (INAUDIBLE) ammunition. How did that not set off alarm bells in the hotel where he ended upsetting up his sniper position last night?
I had remembered reporting in the past on something called the Great Las Vegas Gun Show. So, we looked it up and in fact, the Great Las Vegas Gun Show just happened last weekend, September 23rd and 24th.
But then something went wrong in fact checking that because it turns out, the Great Las Vegas Gun Show isn`t last weekend, it`s also next month. It`s November 25th. But then we found out it`s also on February 3rd, and then it`s also in March, on March 17th.
And actually, it turns out the Great Las Vegas Gun Show isn`t really a show, it`s just all the time. It`s like one of these permanent magic acts at these casinos, it`s always running.
If there does happen to be one weekend when you want to go to a gun show that doesn`t happen to be running, there is a pretty good chance that a competitor gun show here on the Great Las Vegas Gun Show doesn`t happen to be running, there`s a pretty good chance that`s a competitor gun show will be running, like this one, the Original Las Vegas Gun Show. It`s a pretty good chance that one will be on instead, and there`s other competitors as well.
It turns out if you`re not soaked in either gun culture or Las Vegas culture, this is an easy thing to get wrong and people who know guns and know gun culture very well get very annoyed. Sometimes they get a little superior about it at times like this when the rest of the country tries to figure out yet another civilian gun massacre in this country. And so, people who don`t usually think about this stuff nevertheless find themselves having to figure out things about guns that the experts really know by heart, the difference between semi-automatic weapons and automatic weapons, or the number of rounds that go in a typical magazine for a semi- automatic rifle or how fast a good shooter can swap out in the ammunition magazine and put in a new one and will you get mad about me calling it an ammunition magazine because that`s not the right jargon?
And what`s the effect of lethal range of an AR-15, and is that affected if you`ve got aftermarket modifiers on that gun? And if legal guns are modified by aftermarket gizmos that are designed to make them more lethal, are those modifications legal? And do they have downsides in terms of the effectiveness of the weapon?
All of those kinds of questions are known by heart by the many, many gun enthusiasts and gun lovers among our fellow citizens, but if you`re not one of them, if you`re not particularly into go gun culture, if you`re just an everyday American trying to figure out how this latest mass shooting happened and why this one person, this one killer, was able to kill and wound more people than even the worst plane crashes in U.S. history, then a reasonable non-expert observer might reasonably wonder, right, how in God`s name did this shooter get we`re told 20 rifles into that hotel room without attracting any untoward attention for doing it?
Twenty rifles, plus the sniper tripods that he also reportedly set up, plus what must have been hundreds, but was more likely thousands of rounds of ammunition -- I mean, you might wonder how a civilian wouldn`t draw attention when bringing an armory`s worth of high-power rifles into a civilian space like a hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Casino.
So, maybe there was a big gun show in Las Vegas sometime around now, and maybe that`s why it didn`t seem strange to anybody that this guy had all those guns. It`s a reasonable question. It`s a reasonable line of inquiry from a distance until you look at real gun culture and the way it`s manifest in a place like this where it turns out, yes, there was a gun show last weekend, and it turns out there is another gun show coming up this weekend at a casino not very far from here at all.
But one last weekend and one next weekend, it`s just because there`s always a gun show, always, year-round, all year, every year. It`s not like holiday, it`s a gun show it`s like Saturday it`s a gun show.
So, yes, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock managed to get 20 rifles into his hotel room sometime between Thursday when he checked in and 10:08 p.m. last night when he started shooting out the broken windows of his hotel suite.
But it`s worth knowing that a random civilian guy with a ton of guns in Las Vegas is a banal occurrence, right, and a place that hosts large gun shows on a standing basis. We`re not aware that the killer had served in the military, which might have given him specialist firearms training. We`re not aware if he ever had any specialized training at all. We`ve contacted ranges and training facilities both near here where the attack was and near where he lived, those inquiries haven`t given us anything to go on thus far in terms of how or whether he might have trained for this as a civilian.
We do know simply from the sound of the attack that he appeared to be discharging round sort of rate faster than you could typically do with a semi-automatic rifle like an AR-15, fully automatic weapons where you just hold the trigger down and they keep firing. Fully automatic weapons are not illegal in this country, but they are highly regulated, they`re hard to get.
Even so, there are a few different no big deal enhancements and modifications you can make to a legal semi-automatic rifle that make it more like the kind of machine gun fire that you`d see in war, which is what was unleashed on this concert crowd here last night. A semi-automatic firing mechanism is designed to fire every time you pull the trigger, but you can install a double tap trigger or a binary trigger which can double your firing speed by making the gun fired twice, fire once on the pull and once on the release, so that can double your speed.
You can also use something called a trigger crank. I think it`s sometimes gets called a gat crank, which I think is after a Gatling gun. A trigger crank or gat crank basically just is a mechanism that pulls the trigger mechanically using that kind of crank the way -- and that makes the trigger go faster than you could fire yourself for any sustained amount of time.
You can also use something called a bump stock, which is a modification to the stock part of the gun that goes up against your shoulder slides back and forth in such a way that it uses the recoil of the gun to make the firing pace indistinguishable from that of an automatic weapon. With the bump stock, you flip the switch one way and it fires like a normal semi- automatic, you flip the switch the other and it fires like a machine gun. It fires like an automatic weapon.
And, of course, if you want to have sustained bursts of automatic or near automatic weapons fire, you don`t want to do that with a 10-round magazine, right? You want to do that with a large-scale magazine to hold a ton of bullets, otherwise you`d be reloading every few seconds. So, perhaps you`d be using some kind of drum magazine like this guy has there on the left, or even a belt feeding device.
And, yes, if you`re not an expert and you`re not trained either by the military or in some other way, these kinds of devices and modifications for your semi-automatic assault rifle, that might make your gun more prone to misfirings or jams or overheating or other screw-ups. And the overheating thing is a real deal. Even if you didn`t screw up, you were probably going to have a screaming hot rifle barrel to worry about if you were going to put down that many hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of rounds that fast.
But, presumably, that`s why this guy had 20 different rifles in the room, right? One jams up, grab another. One gets hot, grab another, and then another and then another and another. You don`t need to be that good at keeping all your guns firing for all that long, you`ve got 20 of them to choose from.
There are over 3,300 rooms in the building from which the killer took his shots. That building behind me. It took police 72 minutes from the first 911 call until they blew up on his door and found him dead inside. Police sources tell "The Washington Post" that part of the way they zeroed in on his room was because he set up a smoke alarm, because of all that gun smoke in the room.
Clark County, Nevada, has now declared a state of emergency. Bodies were still being cleared from the scene mid-afternoon today. Five hospitals, including the level one trauma center here have been handling nearly 600 victims, 59 dead, 527 hurt.
We don`t know exactly how many of the victims were shot directly rather than hurt in some other way related to the shooting, trampled for example, or hit with shrapnel. But it`s clear, according to FBI and local authorities, that this was one shooter, one man who was able to assemble and set up enough apparently legal firepower that he as a single person created more victims than if he had crashed a fully loaded 747.
Police say in addition to the 20 rifles in his hotel room, they recovered another 18 guns at his home in Mesquite, Nevada, and thousands of rounds of ammunition and explosives they say, although we don`t know the character of the explosives.
Three gun stores thus far have come forward to say they sold him guns. One in Utah says they sold them a shotgun, and two stores in Nevada that say they sold them multiple guns. You don`t even need a license to buy a long gun in Nevada. Just cash and if you buy it from a store, you got to pass a federal background check.
If you don`t want to do that, just go to the gun show. If that background check is going to be a problem or you don`t want to deal with it, just go to the gun show. Trust me, there`s one this weekend. There`s one every weekend.
So, we`ll be reporting this hour on the ongoing crisis for victims and their families, the effort to collect blood donations for the many hundreds of victims will be reporting on the planned police search tonight of another property owned by the shooter in northern Nevada.
We`ll be talking with an expert about how seriously we should take these claims from ISIS today that he was one of theirs. The FBI dismissing that, but ISIS doubling and then tripling down on those claims. They also put out a celebratory video about the attack.
We`ll be talking with that same expert about what it means that there appears to be almost no online trail that is evident today from the shooter`s life.
But as we`re continuing to cover this now still ongoing crisis, most of what we`re doing is reeling at the staggering number of victims which at its heart really is a gun story and the price of stock in gun companies went up today, which means for them, today, if nothing else, was good for business.
For most of us, that`s hard to understand but they get it. They always have.
NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams has been reporting on the alleged shooter since early this morning as investigators work to uncover what might have driven the 64-year-old suspect to such an atrocity, learning more about him and what got him to this point feels daunting and crucial and at this point in parts confusing.
Joining us now from Washington, Pete Williams.
Pete, thanks very much for being with us tonight. I appreciate your time.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: You bet.
MADDOW: We know a little bit about the biography of the shooter and a little bit about his movements both over the years terms of property purchases, employment history, where he lived, when he got to Las Vegas. Do we have any inkling either from his bio from any specific information about what might have driven him?
WILLIAMS: No, and we don`t because authorities don`t. I mean we know a fair amount about his life but nothing to indicate why he came to the hotel intending to kill a huge number of people. We don`t know whether that in fact was his plan to attack that concert, that`s why he asked for the rooms where he did. We just don`t know.
There`s a lot of supposition here, but very few answers. Nothing in his past would seem to lead up to this. As you point out, there`s no social media postings. There are no claims of -- credible claims of credit. There`s no emails. There`s no notes left behind.
No manifesto, no video made to claim credit for this by him himself. Nobody has come forward to say they thought they heard him talking about something or saw him preparing for something or even thought he was capable of anything like this. No one who knew him, who worked with him, who lived near him, thought this was even possible that he could do such a thing. His brother says the family absolutely can`t explain it.
So, there`s just nothing obvious there`s nothing that`s been found in the search of the hotel room, of his cars, of his house, that would give any indication. All they found searching everywhere is more guns and ammunition.
He probably had somewhere around 40 separate weapons, firearms of different kinds. He had both assault-style weapons that could be modified as you`ve discussed to fire rapidly. He also had much more high-powered sniper type rifles with scopes in the rooms, in the hotel room. But why is still a big question.
Now, we do know that he was a high-rolling gambler, that he liked to come to Las Vegas frequently and drop a lot of money gambling. His apparently favorite game was video poker and he claimed to sometimes make $225,000 a pop for an evening`s play at the casinos.
He was considered a high roller. He was given elite status in some casinos where they comp people who come in and give them all sorts of room upgrades and restaurant upgrades and so forth. So, he was he was known in the gambling circles, known to the casinos. They liked his business.
So, one obvious question here, Rachel, was -- did he gamble himself into some sort of financial problem and then decide to take it out on Las Vegas? That`s a question no known answer at this point.
Five years ago, he filed a lawsuit against another hotel, The Cosmopolitan, after he slipped on what he said was an obstruction on the floor and injured himself. But after a couple of years, that lawsuit was dismissed.
The only derogatory thing in his entire family history is his father. His father Benjamin was actually on the FBI`s most wanted list in the 1960s. This is the FBI poster from the time. He had been captured for robbing a bank in Phoenix and then in 1968, he escaped from a prison in Texas, and at that point, the FBI considered him a known fugitive.
And in this FBI wanted poster down in the corner under caution, it describes him as a diagnosed -- I mean, let me get my notes here to get it exactly right. A diagnosed psychotic and someone who had suicidal tendencies.
But there`s been no such in occasion that those sorts of problems bedeviled his son. You see it right there under caution. It says diagnosed as psycho -- I can`t read my own -- psychopathic right. And later, it says may be considered armed and very dangerous and reportedly has suicidal tendencies. But nothing to indicate that his son Stephen had any such problem.
So, this is simply a long way of saying that we know a lot of facts about Stephen Paddock. We just don`t know anything at this point to indicate why he did this.
MADDOW: Pete, following up on that -- I mean almost the lack of information at this point is almost curious. Over the course of the day by the time I was on the air tonight, I figured that more would have been mine just in the public record in terms of the tracks he left behind, whether on social media or in terms of his employment history, or there would be publicly available information about him that would at least help us piece together more than we had when we woke up this morning.
Is it --
WILLIAMS: Well, yes or no. There is more information in the public record, but none of it answers the question of why?
So, you`re right. There is a lot of stuff out there, but not the usual kind of thing that you would find after a shooting like this where it turns out he`s been in communication with somebody overseas or he`s posted something on his social media. He doesn`t seem to have much of a social media presence.
Now, perhaps that`s not surprising for somebody who`s 64 years old. But -- so that he`s not a heavy user of social media but he doesn`t seem to have any social media presence at all that we can find.
MADDOW: One last quick question for you, Pete. Do authorities believe that he would have needed any specialist training to be able to kill this many people from that vantage point?
WILLIAMS: No, not the experts we`ve talked to. He was, in essence, spraying gunfire over a large area. This didn`t require precision shooting.
Now, if in fact he modified the firearms either using the method that you were describing in that video a moment ago or other methods that are out there for taking a perfectly legal semi-automatic assault style rifle, making internal changes so that it will fire automatically, that would require some kind of facility with firearms, unless he just bought it from somebody who had already done it. And that`s part of the -- and that`s one of the investigative tracks here is how did he get his hands on what became automatic weapons with all that lethality.
MADDOW: NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams -- Pete, thank you for the time tonight. Really clarifying. Really appreciate it.
WILLIAMS: You bet.
MADDOW: And to that -- you know, to that last point, one of the interesting investigative lines here that is rare is that this is an older person. This is person who is off the number line in terms of a typical age of a typical mass shooter. We have so many mass casualty shootings in the United States that we can talk about what counts as a typical one.
But there`s also the fact that he seems to have had access to a lot of money, seems to just been a wealthy guy, and that may end up being an important part about what we learned about how he pulled this off, just that he had money to spend and he may have spent it on things that would not have been available to your typical run-of-the-mill blue collar shooter I guess, somebody didn`t have access to the kind of money that he did in order to put this arsenal together. That`s one thread of investigation here that we`re not used to.
More to come from or to come from here tonight in Las Vegas. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM MCINTOSH, SHOT IN LEG BY GUNMAN: I helped her up over the brick wall and that was another woman needed help, so I help turn over the brick wall, and then at that point, that`s when I got shot. As soon as I stood, my pants were soaked and my shoes were soaked. So, I knew I was in trouble. Once I got over the wall actually, I got his name, I got to him a call later, a nice guy who saved my life. Dropped the tailgate on some random truck and threw me in there and I was bleeding all over it and he took my belt tied off my leg and kept me from bleeding out. I would have died. So, I got to make sure I tell him thanks when I see him.
(END VIDEO CLI)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PASTOR PAUL GOULET, INTERNATIONAL CHURCH OF LAS VEGAS: Our hearts are broken, our hearts are devastated, for the 58 lives that were taken, Lord, our light, our hearts are devastated for the 515 plus that are in hospital beds that are wounded. There`s no words that we can say except to cry out to god and we know you love this city we know that you love these people it does not represent the heart of Las Vegas. We love Las Vegas. I believe that people are standing up today because churches are standing up, men women are standing up from all different backgrounds and they`re saying, God please jump in here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Just one of the prayer vigils going on tonight across Las Vegas and frankly across the country. There is a state of emergency here tonight in Clark County, Nevada.
In the last hour, the governor of Nevada has declared a statewide state of emergency as well, and a public health and medical disaster for the state.
Now, what may be implicated in the public health and medical disaster is that the state of Nevada has a doctor shortage, and this declaration from the governor will allow doctors in good standing from other states to pitch in and help care for the mass casualties, for the hundreds and hundreds of people who were injured in this mass shooting. We`re expecting another briefing from officials at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, which will be 7:00 p.m. local time here in Las Vegas.
This, of course, is a national tragedy. It`s the worst mass shooting in American history. It`s a national story.
Some of the most important reporting as always comes from the local reporters who know this place better than anybody. And here in Las Vegas, that`s Jon Ralston, who`s the editor of "The Nevada Independent" and my friend from a long day standings.
Nice to see you, Jon. Thank you.
JON RALSTON, THE NEVADA INDEPENDENT: You too, Rachel. Yes, unfortunately.
MADDOW: Let me just ask you, obviously, nobody`s covered anything quite like this before because nothing like this has ever happened anywhere in America. What do you make of the response in terms of the police, the SWAT teams, the FBI, the response on the ground, the medical response, the overall -- the initial shock and how it was dealt with the first instance.
RALSTON: You know, I`ve talked to a lot of people about that, Rachel, and including the chairman of the Clark County Commission and then Clark County oversees the Strip. And he told me when he got there, at around midnight, that he watched it unfold and he talked to law enforcement who told him that with these first responders have not reacted the way they did. There were off-duty California law enforcement there too. There were a lot of people were -- hundreds more people would have been killed.
RALSTON: Think about the situation. I don`t think people and people talk about all there`s outdoor concerts all the time, they`re not outdoor concerts in an enclosed area around these really tall buildings, there`s nowhere to hide. And so you have people essentially just sitting ducks for this guy in the 32nd floor and you had these first responders having (INAUDIBLE), find some safe haven when there was none, do triage for these folks out there.
Everybody that my reporters have talked to, my reporters have been all over talking people, have talked about the remarkable first response by the first responders, and how many lives are probably safe because of that.
MADDOW: That`s absolutely not just what we`re hearing as well. I want to absolutely underscore that.
And then the other part of it that I find remarkable just in terms of this city getting it right in the face of terrible and unforeseen circumstances is getting the crisis line set up for family members, for people to find their loved ones, getting blood drive set up to try to get blood and plasma donated with hundreds of people in the hospital, also getting an evacuation center set up so that people who are here from all over , 22,000 people at that concert last night when the shooting started, that people had a place to go at that Central Convention Center in order to get respite, in order to get phone chargers, in order to get in touch with people and also people to find them.
I mean, it just seems like of all of the things that -- you know, of all of the worst of humanity that this represents, this was a response that hardens you in terms of both our capacity and our compassion.
RALSTON: I think you`re absolutely right, and you and I have covered politics for a long time. I`m a lot older than you, so I`ve done it even longer than you. You become cynical and I`m cynical about things.
But if you think about how people think of Las Vegas, it`s easy to mock Las Vegas, it`s easy to caricature Las Vegas. It`s not a real city. People don`t really live in houses, they live in these hotels. We`re an alien world.
But look at how the people of Las Vegas have responded to this. You mentioned all the blood the blood drives that are going at. They`re turning away people because they`re running out of donation kits at some places.
We are reporting -- the chairman of the Clark County Commission and the sheriff set up a GoFundMe that they hope to get $1 million for. It`s now over two million dollars, people have donated to help the families here.
So, I mean, it sounds cliche. It sounds not like I shouldn`t be coming from a hardened political reporter, but people really rose to the occasion. They really showed the heart and soul that is outside of the Las Vegas Strip and what really makes this town run.
MADDOW: One last question for you, Jon, and it`s a policy question really. I was talking at the outset about the number of gun shows here, that people I think from outside gun culture and certainly outside Vegas, in Vegas gun culture, you think like, oh there`s a gun show. That means there`s like a time of the year when there`s a gun show and maybe that was going on around now.
Gun shows are constant, and shooting ranges are constant. There`s places that you can go around here shoot fully of all the automatic machine guns, I`ve done it.
The policy decision that has been made in Nevada about background checks for people buying guns has been not only interesting in terms of people fighting about and deciding what to do, but the implementation of that has been a really interesting thing.
RALSTON: You know, Nevada is there`s the gun culture here is prevalent, not just in rural Nevada, but as you mentioned, even here in the urban areas.
So, if you`re a Republican, you`re not -- you look like you`re genuflecting to the NRA, you look like you`re going to support that. The governor came out against the background checks initiative. He`s a moderate guy.
RALSTON: But the attorney general after it passed and it passed very narrowly, Rachel, only because of the urban areas. That got crushed in rural Nevada. It was a background checks initiative on the ballot in 2016. That`s by one percentage point.
But then, the FBI raised some issues about implementation and the attorney general has refused to enforce it. It`s become a big political issue in this state --
MADDOW: So, it`s on the books, it`s not in effect.
RALSTON: It`s on the books, it has essentially not been enforced, which has caused, of course, a lot of divisions and the attorney general of the state is about to get into the governor`s races, to be a major issue in that race. You can`t get away from politics in something like that.
And as Pete Williams mentioned, you still -- you don`t know everything about how this guy got his guns. You don`t know what his motivations are, but certainly, the fact that Nevada had passed a background checks law and yet it hasn`t been implemented, it`s going to be talked about.
MADDOW: It`s going to be talked about and it`s emblematic of the limitations of our ability to function as a democracy and as a policymaking society.
RALSTON: The will of the people. People pass something --
MADDOW: Yes, Jon Ralston, from "Nevada Independence" -- great to see my friend. Thanks. Sorry about the circumstance.
RALSTON: Thank you very much.
I want to bring into the conversation now, it`s my honor to do this. The mayor of the city of Las Vegas, Carolyn Goodman, joins us now from city hall.
Mayor Goodman, I am so grateful that you made time for us tonight. I`m so sorry about the circumstances.
MAYOR AMY GOODMAN (D), LAS VEGAS, NEVADA: There`s been such a difficult time as you can imagine, but we know we have new 59 beautiful stars in the heavens. It`s been an incredible time. An act of an insane human being which will not define us or deter us from being who we are.
We have a great community and I know you`ve been talking to Jon. I really can assure you that we have in our trauma one unit and our hospitals throughout this community, the finest physicians and nurses support staff and, of course, our first responders and our law enforcement are unequaled. This is a very safe community.
And much like the tragedies of Sandy Hook and Pulse, we`re reeling from this. But we have a magnificent community that`s bonded together and is really out there, either contributing to that fund or donating blood or waiting in line for six and seven hours to donate blood to those needy victims that are still being treated, still undergoing surgery.
MADDOW: Mayor Goodman, no community in the United States has ever dealt with in peacetime 59 people killed, well over 500 people in addition to those people who lost their lives. As you say, you`ve got a very, very capable level one trauma center here in Las Vegas and about a half dozen other hospitals who were able to take in patients in this circumstance. Do you feel like you have the resources that you need? Do you need other forms of help from either outside your community or outside the state? Do you -- are there places where you`re short on resources?
GOODMAN: You know, I really believe that the outlying communities, even Los Angeles, they`ve come in stepped to the plate. We`ve had offers from around the country as you would well know, of people who want to come in and help us. We have a remarkable team that is so closely knit and so well-trained and so professional, I don`t care whether it`s in the medical field we`re talking about or in law enforcement and first responders.
The people that I visited overnight last night in the hospitals, those who were not undergoing surgery or in critical condition, that I talked to, it was just unbelievably devastating for them because their country music fans are having grand time. It was another wonderful event here in Las Vegas and then because of all the technology and everything, they didn`t know even if it was fireworks or part of the bands and what was going on, and most of the people with whom I spoke had no idea that where the direction that the bullets were coming from.
But we have one crazed mentally really deranged human being who came in here with that with a plan and it`s just sick. And, unfortunately, I think we have these issues all around the world. They`re not just here.
But for this very close-knit community that prides itself and having a wonderful time with safety as the prime issue here. You know we have Nellis, and we have Creech and we have just so much excitement, and the best restaurants and so many wonderful conventions happening here.
It`s just -- it really is -- I have to believe those stars that are up above tonight and will be there for eternity are the souls of those very, very beautiful 59 people we lost, what a tragedy and their families. That fund that the sheriff started of -- it`s over $2 million now we`ll help them with either staying here and visiting those that are undergoing more complicated surgery or to help them with unfortunately the funeral expenses that they have to undergo now.
But this has been a remarkable community and even our tourists are coming and standing in line to give blood. We`re just so grateful for that and we`re just a proud community that really is just embracing each other in this tragic time.
MADDOW: Mayor Carolyn Goodman, mayor of Las Vegas, at a very, very difficult time thank you for being with us tonight. And please keep apprise, if there`s anything you need us to let people know, please let us know, Madam Mayor.
All right. We`ve got much more to come here tonight from Las Vegas. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON BURTON, SHOOTING VICTIM: I looked over and there was a young lady`s body on the ground next, just right down from me. And people were running over. The shots just kept coming and coming and coming I bet probably five or six times.
As we were driving, I mean, it seemed like it took 30 minutes to get here.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the people that didn`t make it. I can`t believe -- I don`t know -- this world`s got a big problem right now. I don`t know why people think they can pick up guns, knives, bombs and take people`s lives. It makes no sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Today, ISIS claimed that the shooter here in Las Vegas was a soldier of the Islamic State. ISIS claimed that ISIS was behind this shooting. They said that the shooter converted to Islam months ago. They declared that he had chosen an Arabic language nom de guerre. They also reportedly released a celebratory video on the attack, although there wasn`t any footage of the shooter, nothing exclusive to them that they couldn`t got for public sources.
Late reports that there may have been camera equipment in the shooter`s hotel room have piqued interest in whether he might have filmed the attacks himself for some reason, although those reports are as yet unconfirmed.
That said the FBI is insisting that the shooter has no connection to ISIS or to any international terrorist group.
"The New York Times" correspondent who focuses on ISIS, NBC contributor Rukmini Callimachi, pointed out today that ISIS is usually correct when they claim responsibility for attacks. And contrary to popular beliefs, they don`t even always claim attacks that seem obviously connected to them.
For example, this very weekend in Canada, a man plowed through a police barricade, holding a police officer and he got out of his car and repeatedly stabbed the injured officer as the officer lay on the ground. That attacker in Canada this weekend had an ISIS flag in his vehicle, but even in that seemingly clear-cut case, ISIS hasn`t claimed responsibility for that attack.
There is a popular perception that ISIS claims everything and anything is their own attackers because they want credit for everything that anybody else would see is blame. It`s not necessarily true.
That said, sometimes they have claimed things apparently wrongly. They claimed an attack on a casino in the Philippines in June while local officials say that that wasn`t ISIS at all. Just a couple of weeks ago, ISIS claimed that they put bombs at the main airport in Paris after a British Airways flight got evacuated there. There weren`t any bombs. The evacuation was reportedly due to an unrelated incident.
So, sometimes, yes, ISIS makes B.S. claims of responsibility. It`s true.
That said, it is unclear if today`s claim is yet another example of a responsibility claim for ISIS gone wrong. The FBI seems to be treating it that way.
But we should also remember that ISIS has called on its followers to hit concerts, and ISIS followers have hit concerts in the past. We saw it in 2015, in the Paris attack on the Bataclan, and in this year`s Manchester, England, attack on the Ariana Grande concert. Both of those attacks were associated with ISIS, followers of ISIS.
Tonight, though, the FBI still stands by their assessment. They are discounting ISIS`s claims of responsibility and they`re discounting any connection between the shooter and any terrorist group, ISIS or otherwise.
Joining us now is Rukmini Callimachi. She`s foreign correspondent for "The New York Times". She focuses on ISIS. She`s been reporting on this all day.
Rukmini, it`s been illuminating to follow your thoughts on this and your reporting on this all day. Thanks for being with us tonight.
RUKMINI CALLIMACHI, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: My pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: So what is -- as somebody who`s covered ISIS and has followed closely that the science of the way or at least the art of the way that they claim responsibility for things, what do you make of their claim that this shooting in Las Vegas was the work of one of their followers?
CALLIMACHI: Well, what is clear about the way that they`re presenting this attack today is they really want us to believe that they did it. They`re doubling down on the claim. It`s not just been stood out by their news agency. It`s been picked up by Nashir (ph), which is an official ISIS channel. They`ve put out a celebratory of videos and they`re really pushing it in all of their telegram channels.
What`s interesting is even ISIS followers are confused. I was just forwarded a chat from one of their chat rooms where followers were asking each other, are you sure that this one -- that this man was a soldier of the Islamic State? And an annoyed member of ISIS responded, well, if you don`t believe us the only way you`re going to know is if you open up his heart and look at it.
And so, the point is they`re very much stressing that this is them. But even within the terrorist group, there are doubts.
MADDOW: Rukmini, he would be -- I say this out of ignorance -- but it would seem to me that he would be an atypical recruit significantly because of his age. At age 64, obviously, he`s a white American guy who appears to have had a comfortable existence here and have no known ties to any extremist groups and that`s part of it.
MADDOW: But there`s also his demographic factors. Is that -- is that -- I recognize that I`m speaking from ignorance there, but is that the case?
CALLIMACHI: No, you`re absolutely right, Rachel, and that was the first flag that came up for me. He`s 64 years old. According to the George Washington University`s program and extremism which has been cataloguing all ISIS recruits from America, the oldest known ISIS recruit from America is a woman who happened to be 55 years old, and she was also an outlier.
So, he`s 64. He`s almost a decade older than the oldest known recruit. So, if this guy really is ISIS, he`s not just an anomaly, he is literally the oldest known ISIS recruit in America.
MADDOW: In terms of what we know about him, I spoke with Pete Williams about this earlier. We have very little information about him from online sources and from public sources. We`ve got basic stuff in terms of him buying and selling property, a little bit on his employment history. We`ve got nothing at all from social media. We could tell a little bit about you know places that he`s bought guns, that sort of information come out over the course of the day.
We know that they`ve executed a search warrant at his home in Mesquite, Nevada.
MADDOW: What would investigators be looking for? What would be the smoking gun proverbially here in terms of trying to find some side of ties to a terrorist group?
CALLIMACHI: Look, in terms of ISIS attacks, the first thing that I would look for is his phone -- his phone and his laptop. On his phone, I want to know if he has the telegram channel, the Telegram app loaded. This is an app that is very popular with ISIS users. It`s on this app that they have their chat rooms and it`s on this -- in these chat rooms that they plan, and that they put each other in contact with people who can help them make weapons, who can help them make bombs, et cetera.
So, the very first question for me is, does he have Telegram on his phone? And if so, who was he speaking to?
Beyond that, if that is ruled out, I would be looking for paraphernalia and literature that indicates an interest in extremism.
For example, in the recent attacks, the deadly attacks in Spain, in Barcelona. After some time, in the rubble of one of the houses where the leader of that terror cell was based, they found a book. And in that book, they found an inscription where he describes himself as one of the Islamic State soldiers in Al-Andalus, which is the term that they use for the Iberian Peninsula where Spain is located. So, those kind of things are very suggestive.
Police have not to my knowledge commented on what they have found on his electronics or if they found them. I don`t even know if they have recovered his phone at this point.
MADDOW: Rukmini Callimachi, foreign correspondent for "The New York Times" who covers ISIS with incredible precision and clarity -- Rukmini, thank you very much for your time tonight. I really appreciate it.
CALLIMACHI: My pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: And I should -- I should reiterate that the FBI is saying that as far as they know that they don`t see any ties to any terrorist groups of any kind. They are discounting the ISIS claim of responsibility. Local authorities here almost immediately described them as a lone wolf attacker.
So we just -- we don`t know. We`re learning more and more about what`s in the public record about the alleged shooter here, but in terms of getting in anywhere closer to a motive or to explain why this happened, let`s see.
Senator Chris Murphy joins us live in just a moment. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Senator Chris Murphy represented Newtown, Connecticut, as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012, when a young man from Newtown fatally shot his mother before heading to a local elementary school and gunning down 20 children and six adults staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Today, Senator Murphy released a blistering statement about what happened here in Las Vegas last night said in part, quote: It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren`t public policy responses to this epidemic.
After the White House made its position clear today that it was, quote, premature to discuss anything related to gun policy in the aftermath of this shooting, this evening, Senator Murphy went to the Senate floor to categorically disagree and to condemn continued inaction by the United States Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Hurt is deep, the scars are wide in Newtown, but they are made wider by the fact that this body and four and a half years has done absolutely nothing to reduce the likelihood of another mass shooting. If the greatest deliberative body in the world doesn`t act in unison to condemn them through policy change, it starts to feel and look like complicity. If we aren`t talking about policy change the day after a mass shooting in this country, then you are never talking about policy change, because a mass shooting happens on average every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut.
Senator Murphy, I know days like this are difficult day for you and for your constituents, especially in Newtown, Sandy Hook. Thanks for being with us tonight, sir.
MURPHY: Yes, thanks, Rachel. Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: The White House press secretary today said: I think there will certainly be time for that policy discussion to take place but that`s not the place we`re in at this moment. And, you know, coming from the White House obviously this White House likes to mix it up. They like to be bombastic. They like in particular to disagree with Democrats such as yourself.
But I think a lot of people in this country are torn about whether or not it is the right time to make changes, it is OK to talk about guns, it is OK to talk about policy when the country is in tears.
MADDOW: So, I understand that sentiment. I understand that when you are within hours of one of these shootings happening, the instinct is to be focused on compassion. But compassion comes in a lot of different forms.
When a murder happens, the police don`t wait or hours to try to solve the crime and hold someone accountable and we shouldn`t wait because the responsibility for this epidemic of mass execution lies with policymakers. The fact of the matter is, these weapons that were apparently used should not be legal, a kind of magazine that Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School should not be sold to civilians. It`s a favorite tactic, Rachel, of the gun industry to tell America that you can`t talk about changing policy right after one of these shootings when America is most finely tuned to these public policy questions.
And as I noted on the Senate floor, just because we`re talking about this particular horrific mass shooting doesn`t mean that one of these doesn`t happen somewhere around America every day, five people, 10 people, 15 people being shot. So, if you couldn`t talk about mass shootings within 24 hours of them happening, you literally wouldn`t ever talk about public policy change.
MADDOW: In terms of the technology here -- obviously, you`re right about the statistics of how frequently there is a mass shooting as it was editorialized here in the local press today, nine out of every 10 days in America, there is a mass shooting. But this one was absolutely massive in terms of the numbers of people killed and injured. We`ve never seen 600 shooting victims from a single shooter. It`s just never happened, and it would appear that that is because the technology that he had at his disposal.
And it sounded like automatic weapons fire, we`re surmising that it would have been too hard for him to get an automatic weapon, and so he must have used one of these post -- aftermarket gizmos that basically allows you to convert your semi-automatic weapon into an automatic weapon.
Do you feel like a narrow policy approach focusing on that kind of thing, focusing on those trigger cranks, focusing on those stock modifications that make a semi-automatic function automatically, is that kind of a narrow technological focus something that might be possible?
MURPHY: I think it is possible. I think if you talk to most Americans, they would be shocked to know that fully automatic weapons are legal in many parts of this country if you get the right permits and these aftermarket modifications, these packages that you can buy to turn a semi- automatic weapon into a automatic weapon are legal as well.
And so, I think that you have to walk before you can run, when you`re talking about changing federal gun policy and making clearer the prohibition that exists today in federal law on the possession of automatic weapons, tightening that up I think is a good place to start. The fact of the matter is, if the assault weapons ban still applied, you simply could not have something like we saw last night if the individual had a pistol and -10 round magazines rather than a semi-automatic or automatic weapon, and potentially limitless magazines attached to it.
MADDOW: The fact that it`s it still feels impossible to even talk about a place where we might start to address this -- I mean, I know that you are relentless on this subject. It is -- for me, it`s just it`s all it`s almost surreal that the practicalities of this policy just can`t even we can`t even get there.
Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, thank you for being so out front on this issue and thank you for talking us about it.
MURPHY: All right. Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back from Las Vegas. We`re expecting a press conference from the local sheriff to begin at the top of the hour. These briefings from local authorities really is where we get the lion`s share of information at this stage of an investigation. We expect this to be an important one. So stay with us. That`s coming right up.
MADDOW: Any minute now, we are expecting a live update from local authorities on the investigation. Sheriff is due to be holding a press conference momentarily.
Here in Las Vegas, I should tell you, the people starting to line up at blood donation centers almost as soon as news of the shooting broke overnight. As Las Vegas` mayor told us a few moments ago, people waited in line for hours today to give blood. The response has been so strong, in fact, that Vegas blood centers are now scheduling appointments for Thursday and Friday because they`re all booked up before then.
But this is a massive crisis with hundreds of victims. They still need blood, so if you are in the Vegas area and you would like to donate the places on your screen would be grateful for every pint. If you are outside of Nevada, head to the Red Cross site for a donation center near you. It`s never a bad time to give blood.
We`re also posting this information online at MaddowBlog.com.
But our coverage is going to continue not just through the evening but through the overnight, as well.
My colleague Lawrence O`Donnell picks up our coverage now -- Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
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