By Greg Price
Doug Carle —father, lawyer, dual citizen in Canada and the United States.
And on those so many levels, the man has a hard time fathoming all the things wrong that happened in his second home in Las Vegas that fateful night earlier this month, that saw Stephen Paddock open fire on a country music festival from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, leaving 58 people dead and 546 injured.
One of those dead was Carle’s niece’s friend. However things shaked out, it could have been his daughter Paige as well had she had more of an affinity for country music.
“She was in front of the venue a couple hours before. Thank God for her genetically-passed on hatred of country music and her deciding not to go in. She was offered tickets and decided not to go,” said Carle. “My daughter and her fiancé were right in front of the avenue at 8 o’clock at night and the shooting started at 10:05…they were right there, just a couple of hours before. I go by there all the time which made this incident so unbelievably surreal. There are people from this town who actually were involved in it, they lived through it. My niece who I am very close to was there, her and her husband were there and one of their best friends was standing right next to them, she’s dead.”
Carle and his daughter were attending a Life is Beautiful music festival at Fremont Street the weekend before where apparently according to news reports, Paddock had rented a condo directly above the festival and was scoping it out.
Carle and his daughter love embracing Las Vegas, going to the concerts, festivals, food shows and Fremont Street. They easily could have been at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival had they been fans of country music.
While the mass shooting has left Carle’s psyche shaken, it will not cripple him or his family, knowing what the act of terror was trying to accomplish.
“All the events we go to, they could be as big of a shooting gallery as any place else. I was talking to a buddy who is the head bartender at the Rush Lounge at The Nugget and we were talking ‘F*** them, we are not going to let that crazy gunman keep us from enjoying our life.’ Flying back to Vegas, I’m going to go to all those areas, visit the memorial and give a donation. My daughter and her fiancé are going in to give blood,” said Carle. “You can’t let it paralyze your life. I’m sure people in Taber felt the same way with the school shooting. It was so surreal. In some ways it feels so real and other ways it feels so fake and made up. I have walked by so many times right in front of that venue (Mandalay Bay).”
Carle loves his time in Las Vegas, as he gets closer and closer to his retirement years, he will be spending more and more time in what he considers his main residence he’s had for six years. But something strange seems to happen whenever he crosses the border — his very identity seems to change with how people are labeled.
“Here in Canada I’m seen as conservative and when I go there I’m the biggest liberal you’ve ever seen,” said Carle with a chuckle.
Carle recalls a story of a golf buddy who is a school teacher from Minnesota who had never been around a gun in his life. A month before the mass shooting in Las Vegas, he walked into a gun store in Las Vegas and after filling out three forms, and a man who had handled a firearm once in his life (and never fired it), walked out with a hand gun.
“No training whatsoever, and he has a gun. Lots of people have guns down there. Three days before the shooting incident, I was picking something up at Wal Mart and some guy right in front of me, a Regular Joe has a hand gun in a holster on his hip,” said Carle. “Las Vegas is an open carry state where you can be Roy Rogers When you go to Nevada like I do, you go through Montana, Idaho, Utah and Nevada and there are times I walk into a gas station and you think you are in 1885. I love Las Vegas, I love the United States, but what the hell? Along the way they did something wrong. Their opinion on health care and their opinion on guns is so backwards. Leading technology, biggest military etc. etc., unbelievable system of roads and infrastructure blah, blah, blah. But they are Neanderthals when it comes to guns and health care. Canada gets some things very right and very wrong just like every country does, but what they get right is how they look after their citizenry with their health and education and housing and things like that, things they get wrong is their level of taxation.”
Another thing Carle says Canada gets right is recognizing the responsibility that is required in the handling of its guns.
“Talking to my nephew in-law who is a sheriff, and most cops are right wing, he is the first to say not every citizen should have a gun. Before he gets to shoot his gun, he has to go through months, even years of training and here he is up against guys who bought their gun yesterday,” said Carle, adding his nephew-in-law recounted the story to him of the mass shooting.
Given his police training, the nephew knew right away that it was a gun going off after the first volley.
“The shooter knew what he was doing. He was aiming at the stage where there were the most people right in front of it. He saw the girl go down and saw other people go down and from the direction, he knew it was coming from over his shoulder. Him and some other friends and a bunch of other guys were able to rip the facade off the stage and they made their way under the stage,” said Carle. “He said it (the bullets) sounded like rain on the stage. They eventually went out a back exit, following the crowd. But, it was utter confusion at the time, like being in a war.”
Speaking as a lawyer, Carle admits he shakes his head when people in the United States scream about their Second Amendment rights of a well- regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. The thrust of which it is protected, makes it the Holy Grail of the Constitution.
“There has been dozen of amendments since the American Revolution. One amendment outlawed drinking, another amendment allowed you to drink again. What took place, the culture back then, whenever the American Revolution was (1775-1783), doesn’t exist in 2017,” said Carle. “It’s a different world beyond comprehension. Back then, guns were single-shot muskets, maybe a cannon. Not something that shoots off 600 rounds a minute. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly given decisions on how you limit the First Amendment, free speech, yet they won’t limit the Second Amendment. Basically, the Second Amendment is you can own anything up to and including an atomic bomb.”
The Second Amendment is often seen as a safety measure for the citizenry incase it has to overthrow a corrupt/fascist totalitarian government. Given the advancement in weaponry for Carle, an overthrow would prove difficult if a remake of Red Dawn were to happen in real life.
“They have tomahawk cruise missiles, they have Apache attack helicopters, personnel carriers, they have drones. Say you got an fully automatic AK-47, good luck to you. You need that to protect yourself from a corrupt government and you think that’s going to help in the end?” questioned Carle. “You are supposed to be living in a democracy where you vote out the government if you don’t like it. Plus, the Americans have such an amazing system of checks and balances, it would be impossible, unless it was the entire government, where every government official turns corrupt and is fascist. Senate overrides Congress who overrides the president.”
AT the current rate the United States is going at with gun-related deaths, Carle sees no change, regardless of how many mass shooting the nation endures in increasing its gun control measures, unless the younger generations take up the mantle.
“There will be no tipping point, there is never going to be a tipping point unless there is a generational change in people’s thoughts on weapons. The stats speak for themselves. The vast majority of people with guns legally are older people who feel they aren’t safe,” said Carle. “You see the Millennials, and for the most part, they don’t want anything to do with guns. There are of course your hunters etc. and no one is saying people shouldn’t have their hunting rifles, but your average younger person, they don’t want anything to do with guns. The only way it is going to change is if there is an enlightenment with a generational shift that is going to be slow. People say after a mass shooting it’s not the right time to talk about guns. It’s exactly the right time. When are you supposed to talk about it?”
Even talk of having more checks and balances to gun ownership is considered taboo in the United States with the snail pace the conversation is progressing according to Carle, where again he is viewed as conservative in Canada, yet a tree-hugging hippy liberal among some of his friends in the United States.
Carle brings up the comparison of being a dog lover and having a German Shepherd/collie cross. It took four days for Prairie Wind Dog Rescue to do background checks to ensure Carle could provide a good home for the animal. But, Carle could walk into the Guns and Guitars shop in Nevada in the morning, and by 10 a.m. he is in possession of a glock. Weeks, months pass by before one is approved for a passport, and yet again, same-day service for gun ownership.
“There is an NRA outrage that somebody should think about having a background check of someone wanting to buy a fully automatic machine gun. If you have an .08, your right to drive a motor vehicle is in many ways, affected for the rest of your life,” said Carle. “But if you are a convicted felon, on a no-fly list or mentally unstable, any number of things that are common sense that maybe this person shouldn’t be allowed to have a gun, yet no impediment. You have all these incredible restrictions on how to do things in your life, yet guns are off limits. No one is suggesting to have everyone’s guns taken away, but just some common sense that there are limits to everything.”
Carle added the NRA apologists would say no sort of background check would uncover a criminal record or unstable profile of Las Vegas mass shooter Stephen Paddock.
“How about the 43 effin guns he bought and thousands of rounds of ammunition? If you had some sort of registry and you somehow knew which guns are bought, wouldn’t some computer algorithm in 2017 spit a report to the proper authorities that this guy is stockpiling 43 guns and many of them semi automatic, assault-type guns,” asked Carle. “There is no rational argument out there that gun ownership shouldn’t be limited on some level.”