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Las Vegas massacre puts security concerns front and center

Some casinos in Las Vegas have tightened their security measures in response to the shooting rampage on Sunday, but permanent changes will depend on what people are willing to accept as the nation deliberates on the safety of open public spaces. Special correspondent Cat Wise reports on how the conversation around security is shifting in the wake of the shooting.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Even before the Las Vegas shooting, terror attacks had raised serious questions about how to secure open spaces and so-called soft targets. That includes hotels with their open access.

    Now those security concerns are front and center around the country.

    Special correspondent Cat Wise reports from Las Vegas.

  • CAT WISE, Special Correspondent:

    In many ways, Las Vegas appears to be returning to normal. Tourists crowd the streets. Wedding bells are ringing. But it's also very evident this is not the same city it was four days ago.

    As the Vegas community is still coming to terms with the worst shooting in modern U.S. history, many here, and around the country, are wondering what could be done to prevent future mass shootings in so-called soft targets like hotels and open spaces.

    DAVE SHEPHERD, Former Head of Security, Venetian Resort: I can make the safest place there is in the entire world, and nobody will come, because you can't let them back in.

  • CAT WISE:

    Dave Shepherd is a former FBI agent and the former head of security at the Venetian Resort.

  • DAVE SHEPHERD:

    There's not one thing that is going to answer every question. Even if you had a metal detector, even if you had wand people down, you still could run into problems with a person.

  • CAT WISE:

    Could there have been metal detectors that picked up on these weapons in his suitcases?

  • DAVE SHEPHERD:

    If you use metal detectors, sure, you can end up having that, if you do every bag, if you check every bag coming into a place.

    But was that set up standard in all the places anywhere? If you are looking at this hotel as a hotel, it is not being done at 72,000 other hotels in the United States. It's not.

  • CAT WISE:

    These days, whenever we fly or go to big events like concerts and games, we expect to go through metal detectors and have our belongings searched, and yet very few hotels around the country, and here in Las Vegas, have those same tight security measures in place.

    As FBI investigators comb the scene at Sunday's shooting, an outdoor concert venue, we ask visitors on the Vegas Strip if more security was needed.

    Would you be willing to go through metal detectors in hotels?

  • RACHEL MELTON, Tourist:

    I sure would. I definitely would. I mean, when they started the extra security on airlines after 9/11, I didn't mind at all waiting those few extra minutes while they checked me and everybody else.

  • TYLER MARINO, Tourist:

    It seems like there's a lot of security around here. I mean, we see a lot of police officers.

  • DAN  FERGUSON, Tourist:

    You know we feel comfortable. You know, it's just is this an isolated incident?

  • DARCY FERGUSON, Tourist:

    Hopefully.

  • DAN  FERGUSON:

    In this magnitude? Of course it is. But as far as the safety measures, what extent do they have to go to really control something that they can't?

  • CAT WISE:

    Vegas casinos are notoriously secretive about their security operations. Cameras are often used with high-tech systems like facial recognition. But bags are rarely searched, a gap in security shooter Stephen Paddock took advantage of when he brought in an arsenal of weapons.

    MGM Resorts, which owns the Mandalay Bay Hotel, where Paddock stayed, provided a statement to the NewsHour which read in part: "MGM Resorts has increased its level of security and works consistently with local and national law enforcement agencies to keep procedures at our resorts up to date, and are always improving and evolving."

    Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta said increasing security comes down to a question of what people will accept.

  • TILMAN FERTITTA, Owner, Golden Nugget:

    We're not a police state, and nobody wants to live in a police state. And now, besides going into a ball game or going or catching an airline, we're going to start checking everything everybody brings into a hotel? Well, then what's going to happen?

    He could have just walked down the street and started shooting and would have killed 30 or 40 or 50 people. So now we're going to have somebody check you when you walk out of your house?

  • CAT WISE:

    At the Wynn Vegas casinos, security guards were screening visitors with metal-detecting wands and checking bags at random this week. And owner Steve Wynn has employed security guards with military training for years.

  • STEVE WYNN, Owner, Wynn Las Vegas:

    There are almost 40 of them at every opening of my building, armed, on the lookout. Las Vegas is a target city. We have hardened the target at the Wynn.

  • CAT WISE:

    Dave Shepherd believes the question of how to increase security goes well beyond Las Vegas. And news reports today say that Paddock may have scouted locations in Chicago and Boston before going to Las Vegas.

  • DAVE SHEPHERD:

    Every property in the United States now because of this, a high-rise building, has to look to see what the procedures are. I'm sitting there in New York looking at Central Park. There's some buildings. I'm here at a concert. I'm sitting in Chicago's event. I'm in San Francisco in a park.

    They're all going to have to look at that now.

  • CAT WISE:

    And, in fact, earlier today, the Las Vegas Security Chiefs Association met to discuss new security measures in the wake of the shooting — Judy.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Thank you, Cat — Cat Wise reporting for us from Las Vegas.

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