Context (noun), the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.

A long time ago, former Wilmington newspaper publisher and editorial consultant Clarence Graham told me it’s important to look for context in those stories that really demand it.

Context isn’t always easy to find. Sometimes, with some events, we never find honest and accurate context. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying, of course.

But how does anyone contextualize a 64-year-old man who checks into a Las Vegas resort hotel with 20 rifles, hell-bent on killing as many of his innocent fellow Americans as possible with no reason or motive?

Nevada Congressman Mark Amodei, R-Second District, released this statement today after the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas that has left – so far – 59 dead and another 515 wounded: “Unfathomable evil. Attacking harmless people who like listening to music – I don’t have the words. Our hearts go out to the victims and families of this terrible tragedy. It’s a sad day.”

Congressman Amodei is 59. He is a lawyer. He served in the United States Army in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. His resume and service record are impressive beyond the norm. And he admits, “I don’t have the words.”

Neither do I.

Nevada’s two U.S. senators expressed their best sentiments as well under the circumstances.

Senator Dean Heller said: “Our communities are all in mourning as we try to understand this senseless massacre on the Strip. I want to thank our first responders for their swift actions and efforts that without a doubt saved numerous lives. Lynne and I are praying for all of the victims and their families who are experiencing immense pain and grave, shocking loss that cannot be measured.”

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto said: “My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and wounded in last night’s vicious and senseless attack outside the Mandalay Bay Resort. I thank the first responders for taking down the gunman and working tirelessly to treat the wounded. I am working with the City of Las Vegas and Clark County to ensure that local officials have the resources they need to support our community and investigate these tragic events.”

Still, context is lacking. And that is not meant to be disrespectful whatsoever to anyone.

But why did 64-year-old Stephen Craig Paddock do this, and did he act alone? If he acted alone, how did one lone man get almost two dozen rifles into a 32nd-floor corner room at the Mandalay Bay Resort on the Las Vegas Strip?

As The New York Times has reported, “Paddock was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot in his room on the 32nd floor of the hotel, said Sheriff Joseph Lombardo of Clark County, which includes Las Vegas. More than 19 rifles were found in the hotel room along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Two rifles with scopes were mounted on tripods and positioned in front of the two windows in the hotel room.”

That seems to be a lot of activity for almost any one person to set up without drawing attention from hotel staff or the ever-present security cameras. Frankly, it’s beyond bizarre.

There’s got to be more to this horrific chapter in American history. Please don’t let us read that this one old man carried 20 rifles – plus scopes and tripods – to a corner room of a popular Las Vegas resort and carried out this atrocity without anyone questioning anything.

In this post-Sept. 11, 2001 era, that is simply unacceptable. Someone – in addition to Paddock – almost has to know. Therein lies the context. Maybe.

Then again, maybe this was just another assault by another deranged madman who – despicably – leaves his family and friends to suffer in his infamy. I don’t know.

But I do know this, as a nation, as a people and as fellow human beings, we need this to end. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Now.

We are better than this. For more than 200 years, Americans have done more to promote peace, humanitarianism and economic development in more parts of the world than any other nation. Let’s promote some of that at home. Beginning with peace. Now.

Pax tibi.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press.