A lot of factors will be examined and scrutinized in the wake of the horrific events that unfolded in Las Vegas on Sunday night as a gunman opened fire and killed nearly 60 people and injured many more. Factors such as the shooter’s motive, how and when he began planning the attack, and did people close to him suspect anything? And, of course, there will be much discussion about the gun laws that are currently in effect and how to make it more difficult to obtain such weapons.
Nevertheless, sooner or later the focus is going to turn to the hotel, the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, which was the unfortunate venue for the latest mass shooting in this country. That is not to suggest this is necessarily the fault of Mandalay Bay or MGM Resorts International, which owns and operates the property, but there are clearly some questions that need to be answered.
The gunman reportedly had as many as 23 firearms, including roughly 10 assault rifles, in his 32nd floor room, as well as a hammer-like tool to break the window. How did he get that massive amount of ammunition and equipment into the hotel without being noticed? According to reports, he had as many as 10 suitcases. How was he able to hide the firearms from the housekeepers after checking in Thursday as the incident didn’t occur until a few days on Sunday? Did he emerge from his room at all during his stay? Did other nearby guests see or hear anything unusual, particularly when he smashed his window to begin the assault?
The unfortunate reality with any of these hotel high rises with thousands of rooms—more than 3,200 rooms in this case—is that it is very difficult, if not impossible, for the staff to monitor what’s going on in all of the rooms? In my opinion that’s part of the problem with these mega hotels which help define Las Vegas.
With many of these high-rise hotels so close together and a number of outdoor venues that are difficult to secure, Las Vegas has in fact long been thought of as a “soft target.” Many local officials have feared either a terrorist attack or something like this for many years. To the city’s credit, it has been ahead of the curve—due in part to the large number of casinos—when it comes to security technology. Many hotels have embraced things like facial recognition software, for example, and been vigilant about checking the trunks of cars in parking lots.
In the wake of terrorist attacks several years ago, particularly the one at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai, India in 2008, there was much discussion about adding metal detectors and more stringent security at major urban hotels both globally and within the U.S. I would expect you’re going to hear more about that possibility in the weeks and months to come.
Of course, such conversation would be countered with an argument on behalf of the rights of the guests, not to mention the inconvenience. From the guest perspective, it’s bad enough to have to go through these measures at the airport at the onset of these long journeys. Their patience for emptying their pockets and having their suitcases filed through as they try to check in will be minimal. But that can’t be a reason not to do it.
The big question now is what will be the impact of this incident on tourism on Las Vegas, if any? Will this curtail travel at all and not just in Vegas but all over the country? Citizens from America, as well as other countries throughout the world, have shown a remarkable resilience to all of these incidents but how much longer will that be the case?
After all, the hotel is supposed to be your safe place when traveling in a foreign city. Unfortunately, as we learned again Sunday night, there is no such place anymore.