Las Vegas shooting prompts gun control rally in Manhattan

The Las Vegas mass shooting sparked a gun control rally in Manhattan on Monday.
The Las Vegas mass shooting sparked a gun control rally in Manhattan on Monday. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

Holding signs that read, “Keep NYC gun free” and “Justice,” more than 100 New Yorkers rallied in support of tighter gun control laws Monday evening, less than 24 hours after a mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas claimed the lives of at least 59 people.

“One of the biggest massacres took place because the National Rifle Association allowed it,” rally organizer Kevin Hertzog told the crowd as they stood near the iconic red staircase in Times Square.

Gun control advocates had gathered for the march and rally, organized by Gays against Guns, on the south end of Union Square Park just after 6 p.m. with homemade signs criticizing the NRA. Some protesters covered their faces in symbolic white veils as they marched along Broadway toward Times Square, where they were greeted by small applause from several tourists.

Chants of “What do we want? Gun control! When do we want it? Now!” rippled through the street as the crowd marched.

Gunman Stephen Paddock, 64, opened fire on a crowd of about 22,000 people attending a country music festival late Sunday night, killing at least 59 people as bullets rained down from his 32nd-floor window in the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, authorities said Monday. More than 500 people were injured in the chaos that ensued. 

Paddock killed himself before police entered the hotel room he was firing from, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said.

At the Manhattan rally, Hertzog said the shooting was a reminder of how important gun control laws are.

“I hope the people see … The citizens of the United States of America are getting tired of being mowed down in our entertainment venues,” he said.

Public Advocate Letitia James told the crowd in Times Square the time for politeness is over.

“This is not the time to be polite,” she said. “This is the time to demand a more perfect union.”

Sunday’s shooting was the deadliest mass shooting in United States history, eclipsing the 2016 massacre of 49 people at an Orlando nightclub by a gunman who pledged allegiance to Islamic State militants.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the massacre in Las Vegas, but U.S. officials said there was no evidence of that.

“We have determined to this point no connection with an international terrorist group,” FBI special agent in charge Aaron Rouse said.

Police said they’re still investigating Paddock’s motive.

Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the deadly shooting rampage earlier in the day, saying there was no immediate threat to New York City. 

“The NYPD sees no connection to anything here, no threat that this implies for New York City,” he said during an unrelated event in Harlem.

A number of organizations associated with New York University also held a vigil for the shooting victims on Monday.

With Laura Figueroa and Reuters