A deliberate and thoughtful approach is needed when describing the recent attack in Las Vegas.
A multiplicity of people have used “terrorism” to describe the event. Policy makers, such as Rep. Jim Cooper and even the famous YouTube star Casey Neistat used “terror” in their reference to the Las Vegas attack. Such labeling demonstrates a lack of understanding as to what terrorism is. Recent Daily Lobo articles accurately referenced the man as a “gunman,” not a terrorist.
So, what did happen in Las Vegas? The events that transpired, as we understand from open source reporting on Oct. 5, could be described as an “attack” or perhaps a “massacre.” Both words capture and correctly describe the egregious action which killed and injured scores. Attack and massacre, however, do not speak to the motive of the perpetrator. Terrorism is a term that speaks directly to the intent and motive of an actor. A key tenant of terrorism is political motivation. With the investigation active and with no defined motive, currently referring to the attack as terrorism is analytically inaccurate.