Donald Trump and authorities in Las Vegas won't label the gunning down of at least 58 people and the injuring of more than 550 that occurred at a country music festival in Las Vegas at the hands of a lone white male shooter an act of terrorism, despite a state statute in Nevada that defines it as such. But since the Trump administration and the authorities have been loathe to call the insidious act terrorism, people on Twitter are doing it for them.
An "act of terrorism means any act that involves the use or attempted use of sabotage, coercion or violence which is intended to cause great bodily harm or death to the general population," according to Nevada law, which would mean that the shooter, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, was a domestic terrorist.
Bedlam broke out when, from his room at the Mandalay Bay Resort, Paddock began picking off concertgoers watching headliner Jason Aldean at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, according to The New York Times. Bullets rained down for more than five minutes as Paddock fired hundreds of rounds from an automatic weapon into the crowd. By the time a SWAT team reached the 32nd floor of the hotel, they found 10 rifles and Paddock dead of an apparent suicide, according to the Times.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, when Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo was asked if the shooting was being treated as terror-related, he said, "No, not at this point, we believe it is a local individual, he resides here locally. We don't know what his belief system was at this time."
"Terrorism," as defined by Merriam Webster, is "the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal." But in a story on Monday about look-ups of the word spiking, Merriam Webster wrote, "Its use to refer to terrible violent acts without a clear political motive may constitute an emerging new sense of the word."
The reference site also noted that under Nevada law, Paddock would be considered a terrorist. But that didn't stop White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders from balking at the idea of naming the act of violence as terrorism when a reporter asked at a press conference if the president believes what happened amounts to an act of domestic terrorism.
"We're still on a fact-finding mission. This is an ongoing investigation and it would be premature to weigh in on something like that before we have any more facts," Sanders said.
The thing is that she does have the facts -- a man murdered nearly 60 people and injured hundreds more in a senseless act of violence, which is terrorism under Nevada law. Furthermore, not knowing a motive didn't stop Trump from using the Orlando massacre, in which 49 people were gunned down at an LGBT club, as fulcrum to push through his anti-Islamic agenda, although facts about the shooter, Omar Mateen, an American of Afghan descent, were not fully formed at the time he sent out the disgustingly opportunistic tweet, "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!"
It's not lost on people on social media that when a nonwhite shooter massacred people in Orlando in June of 2016, Trump jumped on the terrorism narrative. And now that the shooter is white, Trump's White House won't call it terrorism even when Nevada law clearly states that it is.
Here's the Twitter pushback from people who are calling Paddock a terrorist and his shooting an act terrorism.