Vegas still thinks gun rights are fundamental to America

This week anyone who is anyone in the gun business is in Las Vegas for the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show. More than 60,000 people are gathered from all over America and the world.

Attendees are crowding inside the Sands Expo Center, right on the Vegas Strip, to make their way down more than 12.5 miles of aisles built like little city blocks, all with gun stores filling them corner to corner in this annual show.

This isn’t a consumer show. People are here to buy and sell the millions of guns and related products that will stock stores around America this year.

The show has been in Vegas every year for some time, and looks likely to stay. This might surprise a few, because the worst mass shooting in U.S. history took place in the city last October.

What’s actually happening is that the American people have largely come to the conclusion that freedom shouldn’t be a casualty of some madman’s wrath. They blame individuals for their decisions and want them punished accordingly. That’s how our constitutional republic was designed to function.

Looking around Vegas, it’s obvious the blame hasn’t settled on these people who design, make and sell firearms and ammunition.

If you think this is the cold indifference of gun owners on display – or perhaps evidence of a public too burned out to care any longer about the issues related to guns – then you’ve swallowed a little too much of the narrative you get from CNN, network news shows and the big newspapers.

What’s actually happening is that the American people have largely come to the conclusion that freedom shouldn’t be a casualty of some madman’s wrath. They blame individuals for their decisions and want them punished accordingly. That’s how our constitutional republic was designed to function.

No, the people in Vegas haven’t forgotten. People are talking about the horror reigned down by a deranged sociopath from the Mandalay Bay’s 32nd floor onto 22,000 people attending a country music festival. Gunman Stephen Paddock shot and killed 58 people and injured about 500 when he fired more than 1,100 rounds and then killed himself.

People haven’t forgotten, nor have they been desensitized to evil. It’s just that the majority of the people aren’t blaming guns or the Americans who own them for the actions of a monster.

At the show a lot of people are talking about the need for better security, about smarter ways to stop would-be killers before they act, and about how the laws and regulations we already have need to enforced.

But then people stop and note that Paddock passed the background checks. He didn’t give authorities reason enough to suspect him. He was a gambler. We now know he kept child pornography on his computer. We don’t know enough about what his girlfriend knew.

Paddock didn’t leave us a madman’s manifesto. It’s as if, when we look closely at his evil attack on people just out for an evening of music, we are forced to look away from the light and to instead look into a black hole of evil, hatred and despair.

Some think it possible to regulate such evil from the hearts of those who turn that way by passing gun-control legislation. But doing this would actually – for all practical purposes – punish good, law-abiding people.

Most of us want to step back from the darkness of the abyss that Paddock leapt into. We want to be more aware, more careful and ready to fight for the good that is prevalent in America.

We know freedom is not to blame. We know that when people give up freedom for perceived security they are left unprepared for the monsters among us. We know that plenty of evil occurs in countries that don’t have the rights we cherish and take carefully into our hands in America.

So this reaction from the residents and the people now visiting Vegas isn’t a bad thing; it’s an open-eyed and sober effort to preserve what’s good, as we try to root out and stop what’s not.

These people now in Vegas for the SHOT Show support more than 300,000 jobs in America. They make products for America’s 100 million-plus legal gun owners and our police forces and military.

America’s legal gun owners aren’t a problem that needs to be solved, but are part of the solution. We know that much. We are trying to learn the rest.

Frank Miniter is author of "The Future of the Gun" & "The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide". His latest book is, is "Kill Big Brother", a cyber-thriller that shows how to balance freedom with security without diminishing the U.S. Bill of Rights.