MGM and the responsibility of safety

Trevor Gulock, Contributing Writer

Two years after America’s deadliest mass shooting to date — The Las Vegas Massacre — victims have been promised compensation after MGM Resorts International committed up to $800 million in reconciliation to those who suffered devastating losses. Families have since gathered in relief in the Las Vegas Community Healing Garden to remember their lost loved ones and breathe after being promised much-needed compensation.

Despite the fact that on the night of the tragedy MGM hired a Department of Homeland Security certified security contractor, bloodshed occurred in MGM’s high-rise Las Vegas strip hotel, as 58 were slaughtered and hundreds of others were injured. In response, more than 65 law firms aimed at MGM, in a case that easily could have lasted over a decade, as they demanded the third-largest victims’ compensation in history. Robert Eglet, a lawyer whose firm represents more than 2,500 victims of the shooting, embodies the need for these families’ compensation; “[W]e believe that the terms of this settlement represent the best outcome for our clients and will provide the greatest good for those impacted by these events,” he said.

So why is MGM Resorts paying for the actions of a shooter, whose main presumed motivation was notoriety? While it is the organization’s responsibility in the entertainment and venue industry to ensure safety for their stakeholders, protecting against terrorists is near impossible in the present day. Substantial security precautions for high-profile events can cost over seven figures and would take up more than a considerable percentage of companies’ revenue streams. Consider how many events you have attended that do not check bags, or even find anything when they do. Complete, 100 percent foolproof security could not have fallen on MGM Resorts International on the night of the shooting and is a heavy precedent to place on the hosts of such events.

However, the law leaves one possible party responsible for the events that occurred: MGM Resorts. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) – passed in 2005 – completely protects the seller of the firearm used in a crime, forcing compensation to come from MGM. Because of this law, public opinion is forced to demand compensation from the organization hosting the event. While MGM is insured up to $751 million for legal repercussions, it is not stopping them and many other companies from lobbying for gun control.

MGM attempted a declaratory judgment in 2018 that victims could not receive legislative compensation, by appealing to the SAFETY Act passed in solemn memory of the attacks of 9/11. Furthermore, several 2020 democratic presidential candidates have vowed to attempt to repeal PLCAA, and they have the entertainment/hospitality industry’s full support. The CEOs of both Paramount Pictures and Comcast — subsidiaries of which include the BET Awards, MTV’s VMA Awards, and Universal Resorts — have endorsed Biden in the hopes that gun control legislation will protect the safety of the customers at their venues.

The shooter, Stephen Paddock, is the only individual directly responsible for his actions — not MGM Resorts. Consequently, both the entertainment and hospitality industries are willing to retaliate and may lead to the first argument that gun control would be economically viable legislation. The only question now is whether or not these industries have deep enough pockets to get what they, and millions of Americans affected by guns, want.

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