Former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly said Monday that the massacre in Las Vegas hours earlier — the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history — was “the price of freedom.”
“Once again, the big downside of American freedom is on gruesome display,” he wrote in a blog post titled “Mass Murder In America.”
O’Reilly went on to describe the gunman, 64-year-old Stephen Craig Paddock, as “psychotic” and to argue that strict gun control won’t keep weapons out of the hands of “violent nuts.”
“Having covered scores of gun-related crimes over the years, I can tell you that government restrictions will not stop psychopaths from harming people,” he wrote. “They will find a way.”
Public safety, he explained, requires “logical gun laws,” but unfortunately the issue is “polarizing.”
“The NRA and its supporters want easy access to weapons, while the left wants them banned. This is the price of freedom. Violent nuts are allowed to roam free until they do damage, no matter how threatening they are. The Second Amendment is clear that Americans have a right to arm themselves for protection. Even the loons,” he wrote.
At around 10:15 p.m. Sunday, Paddock opened fire from his hotel room onto a crowd of concertgoers during the Route 91 Harvest Festival, according to authorities. At least 58 people were killed and more than 500 others were injured. When they entered his room, police found Paddock dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. They also found a cache of at least 10 firearms, including at least one full-automatic rifle.
In Nevada, it is legal both to openly carry long guns, like rifles and shotguns, and to own fully automatic firearms.
Last year, in the wake of the terrorist attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida — then the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history — O’Reilly voiced support for limiting access to certain types of weapons.
“There is too much gun crime in the USA, and high-powered weaponry is too easy to get,” he said. “That’s the fact. So let’s deal with it. We all have the right to bear arms, but we don’t have the right to buy and maintain mortars. Even if you feel threatened by gangsters or a New World Order. No bazookas, no Sherman tanks, no hand grenades.”
In a statement on Monday, President Donald Trump condemned the Las Vegas shooting as “an act of pure evil,” but made no mention of gun control or the plague of mass shootings in the U.S. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “There’s a time and place for a political debate, but now is the time to unite as a country.”