Senator Tom Cotton joined me this morning to discuss the Los Vegas massacre:
HH: Joined by United States Senator Tom Cotton. Senator Cotton, it’s been 30 hours since the monster in Las Vegas killed 59 people, wounded plus 500. I noticed you tweeted two hours yesterday, about 9:00 yesterday, deeply saddened by the tragic and senseless shooting in Las Vegas. My thoughts and prayers are with all the victims and their families, and nothing since. Your reaction to the reactions of a full day of commentary and sadness?
TC: Well, Hugh, first off, I want to continue what I said yesterday on Twitter, that I am praying, as are virtually every person in Arkansas, and all across the country, for the families and loved ones of all the people whose lives were lost, and who are still in the hospital struggling to stay alive from their wounds. Beyond that, I’m not sure there’s much commentary yet to be had, Hugh. The people on the front lines, investigators, police officers, detectives, FBI agents, are still gathering all the facts. And until we know more about the circumstances and the facts, I think it’s hard to draw conclusions. You know, as I learned in the Army, that first reports are often, or even usually wrong. And I think there’s still a lot that’s not known. So for the time being, I think it’s a time for mourning and grieving.
HH: I have been unable to conclude anything about motive from what we know and I can only conclude that the police force of Clark County and Las Vegas was amazing, from the first shot at 10:08. They managed to find and locate the killer within an hour and 12 minutes. His damage had been done. And I cannot for the life of me discern a motive in what I’ve been able to read, Senator Cotton. Can you?
TC: I cannot, Hugh, from anything I’ve read. It’s all open source material, nothing beyond what you have, too. Again, I know that, you know, the police in Clark County, I’m sorry, the Sheriff’s Department of Clark County, the police in Las Vegas, the FBI, are all working around the clock in the matter, and I think until we get more facts, again, it’s hard to draw conclusions.
HH: I’d also like to ask you, I’ve heard a lot of debate, as it always the case, it’s an emotional release for some people to talk about gun control. But of all of the proposals you have heard or seen on the Senate floor or discussed in the media, would any of them have stopped this monster from doing this hideous act?
TC: Hugh, again, it’s preliminary, we don’t know all the facts, but from what I have read in the news, it doesn’t seem like any of the proposals floated in the last 24 hours would have stopped this killer. You know, when I hear those videos, it sounds to me like machine gun fire, a belt-fed machine gun, which is exceptionally hard to acquire in the United States, certainly linked ammunition as well. But we don’t know that for sure. I don’t think we have confirmation, yet, of the kinds of weapons that were used, and where he obtained them, and under the circumstances that he obtained them. So I think we have to gather all those facts before we make any conclusions.
HH: You’ve heard that sound in combat in Baghdad, and in training as a Ranger, Tom Cotton. Let me ask you the security around that kind of weaponry in the United States Army. How does it get onto the black market, if it gets onto the black market?
TC: Well, it’s hard to imagine the circumstance in which machine gun like a M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon or M-240 Bravo could ever get off a military base. You know, they’re kept under multiple locks in an arms room. They’re inventoried regularly. It’s not something that you just find at Wal-Mart or a local pawn shop or anything else. Machine guns have been very strictly regulated in this country for 80 years. They’ve been nearly prohibited for 30 years. There is a small market for them, but again, it’s, to obtain one is even more extensive background checks and government reviews than to obtain your typical rifle or pistol. So I think again, we have to, I’m not saying, Hugh, that I know that it was a belt-fed machine gun. I’m saying that it sounded as if it was one. And that’s why we have to gather all the facts patiently before we make any conclusions.
HH: Yeah, I’m mystified, because Bill Bennett, my predecessor in this slot, had a son in the Marine Corps, and one day, young Lt. Bennett had to keep his entire platoon over. We missed dinner with him, because they had lost a pair of night vision goggles. So they had to sweep the area until they found it. So he missed, you know, they were out there looking all night long for a pair of goggled. You just don’t let machine guns go. They don’t go missing.
TC: Oh, no, of course not, Hugh. No, that’s right. Every soldier, every Marine has some horror story about when they were in the field or on a training exercise, and a young private lost his night vision goggles, lost his pistol, lost a tripod from a machine gun, much less a machine gun itself. And he had to do Hands Across America walking the woods until you turned it up, then you go on base.
HH: So a minute to go, Senator Cotton. How long do you think it will be until we can have a rational conversation about this reaction to the massacre?
TC: I don’t know, Hugh. That depends on the time it takes the investigators to do their work and produce, you know, all the facts and the circumstances surrounding this terrible shooting. But in the meantime, as I said at the outset, I think we should be grieving and mourning for those who have lost, and comforting the people who lost loved ones.
HH: Senator Tom Cotton, thank you for joining me this morning, staying sensible, as always. I appreciate it.
End of interview.