ON SUNDAY night, as thousands of happy festival goers revelled in the closing act of a country music concert in Las Vegas, a barrage of gunfire rang out over the crowds killing at least 59 people and injuring more than 525 in America’s deadliest mass shooting in history.
Lone gunman Stephen Paddock – a 64-year-old retiree armed with multiple assault rifles – rained bullets down on the crowd of 22,000 from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel on the famous Vegas strip before turning the weapon on himself.
As America woke up to news of yet another horrific mass shooting, leaders around the world reacted to the tragedy.
US President Donald Trump
My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2017
President Donald Trump earned some criticism for his choice of words in a tweet expressing sympathy with victims of the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Critics focused on Trump’s use of the word “warmest” to describe his condolences, arguing it made his tweet sound inappropriately cheerful.
Trump also called the shooting an “act of pure evil”, saying in a proclamation, “Our Nation is heartbroken. We mourn with all whose loved ones were murdered and injured in last night’s horrible tragedy in Las Vegas, Nevada. As we grieve, we pray that God may provide comfort and relief to all those suffering.”
Former US president Barack Obama
Obama expressed the sympathies of both himself and his wife, giving a nod to the “senseless” repetition of such events.
Michelle & I are praying for the victims in Las Vegas. Our thoughts are with their families & everyone enduring another senseless tragedy.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) October 2, 2017
Across Asia Pacific, leaders also came out in solidarity with the United States during this difficult time.
Malaysian Prime Minster Najib Razak
US ally and self-described friend of Trump, Najib Razak said he was “saddened” by the news on Twitter.
Saddened by the senseless violence in Las Vegas. Thoughts & prayers with the loved ones of those lost. M’sia stands with the American people
— Mohd Najib Tun Razak (@NajibRazak) October 3, 2017
Cambodia’s Prime Minster Hun Sen
Cambodia’s leader appeared to use the tragedy as an opportunity to remind Cambodian’s of the apparent “peace” that their country enjoys.
Pointing out problems around the world, including the shooting in Las Vegas, Hun Sen in a Facebook post thanked his countrymen who work keeping the peace in Cambodia.
“Cambodia has peace, is full of all opportunities. All the issues and crisis that are currently happening in the Middle East, including the issue of refugees and the shooting of people in the United States is a tragic, that people from all over the world including Cambodia do not need.
[I would like] to wish and thank to the countryman who participate in keeping peace for our country.”
Tensions have been strained between the US and Cambodia, as Hun Sen’s government continues to crackdown on dissent, threatening and imprisoning opposition party members. In recent months, English language news outlets seen as critical of the prime minster have been shutdown, along with a number of American charities operating in the country.
President of Tawian, Tsai Ing-wen
Very saddened to hear about the senseless tragedy in Las Vegas. Our thoughts are with all the victims & their families
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) October 3, 2017
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
Turnbull was at an event in Sydney as news emerged of the attack. He said the Australian consulate was making enquiries to see if any Australians were involved in the incident and advised any Australians in Las Vegas to make contact with family and friends, as well as register on the Smart Traveller website.
The Prime Minister reflecting on the attack in Las Vegas pic.twitter.com/ZWiSKliWml
— The PMO (@thepmo) October 2, 2017
Turnbull called the attack a “reminder that we must constantly work to stay ahead of the threat, whatever the motives.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English
My thoughts are with the victims and families of the senseless and horrific attack in Las Vegas.
— Bill English (@pmbillenglish) October 2, 2017
A number of prominent music artists and celebrities have also voiced their sympathies. For some, the tragedy occurring at a music festival was particularly painful.
Ariana Grande, whose Manchester concert was the scene of a terrorist attack in May resulting in 23 deaths, said her heart was breaking for Las Vegas, and called for gun control.
My heart is breaking for Las Vegas. We need love, unity, peace, gun control & for people to look at this & call this what it is = terrorism.
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) October 2, 2017
International artist Taylor Swift sent flowers to a police station that suffered casualties in the shooting.
Taylor Swift sent bouquets to members of the station at which one of the officers shot in the Las Vegas tragedy worked. Love and respect 💕 pic.twitter.com/uqzBudwCZS
— ️ ️ (@pawxb) October 3, 2017
Guitarist Caleb Keeter, who played at the event in Las Vegas, said on Twitter that the experience has made him rethink his support of the second amendment.
— Caleb Keeter (@Calebkeeter) October 2, 2017
The shooting has once again ignited the debate of gun control in the United States. Social media has been flooded with people calling for tighter gun restrictions in one of the few countries in the world in which the right to bear arms is constitutionally protected.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, America has just 4.4 percent of the world’s population, but almost half of the civilian-owned guns in the world.
Since the devastating tragedy of Sandy Hook in December 2012, in which 27 people including 20 primary school children were massacred, there has been more than 1,500 mass shootings in America. In 2015, on average there was more than one mass shooting per day. But mass shootings make up only a fraction of gun-related deaths, which total more than 32,000 a year.