Monday, June 13, 2016

Home-Grown Terror

Another mass killing? Oh well. Isn't there a game on tonight or something? I figured that a society that can stomach the thought of a murderous lunatic, armed with a Bushmaster XM15, forcing his way into a kindergarten and slaughtering twenty children and six staff members without a massive public outcry is pretty much hopeless. Or the delusional Batman fan who caused eighty-two causalities, including twelve people murdered in their seats by a Smith & Wesson M&P-15 assault rifle with a hundred round drum magazine, in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Just months before, the shooter, who was described as "severely mentally ill," legally purchased his weapons of mass destruction in a local gun store. The two radicalized Muslims, described as "homegrown violent extremists" by the FBI, who murdered fourteen and injured twenty-two in a rampage last December in San Bernardino, CA, used two AR-15 type rifles and two 9mm semi-automatic pistols, purchased legally by a third conspirator. And now, a self-proclaimed ISIS devotee who was on the terrorist watch list and twice investigated by the FBI, managed to become an accredited security guard and legally purchased the assault rifle used to kill fifty souls and wound fifty-three others in a gay night club in Orlando. The deranged domestic terrorist shot 103 different people with a semi-automatic rifle bought in the last twelve days. No one, outside a theater of war, should possess such firepower. Does there seem to be a theme emerging?

In the wake of the carnage in Orlando, it was almost overlooked that the Los Angeles police arrested a man on his way to the gay pride parade with a cache of weapons, including three assault rifles with high capacity magazines and a five-gallon bucket of explosive materials. His Indiana license plate had an NRA sticker attached with the words "Teaching Freedom" below. Though described as bi-sexual by a friend, the All-American Terrorist's Facebook page said, "Anti-Islam, Anti-Gay, and Anti-Racism," oddly enough. He also claimed that political correctness is stifling freedom of speech and that 9/11 was an inside job. If a neighbor had not called police about a prowler, we could have suffered dual massacres on the same day. And the target, in both cases, was the most vulnerable minority group- the LBGT community. It would seem that hatred and violence knows no denomination. Since Obama was elected, he has addressed the nation on fifteen separate occasions after each atrocity involving multiple deaths. He has pleaded, tried to reason, been angered and even wept. What's left for him to say? Since the Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) signed by Bill Clinton in 1994 was allowed to expire during the Bush era, random shootings have spiked. A joint- letter to Congress from Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan in support of banning "semi-automatic assault guns" has been ignored by today's Tea Party obstructionists. Quoting statistics, Clinton said, "Half of all mass killings in the U.S. occurred since 2005- half of all in the history of the country." The Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2005. Maybe there's a connection here. After Newtown, the AWB was re-introduced, but failed in the GOP controlled Senate by a vote of forty to sixty.

The human septic-tank known as Trump was the first to politicize the tragedy. Obama and Hillary each made statements of outrage and condolence and avoided further comment. Trump went on a Twitter frenzy, first saying, "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism. I don't want congrats. I want toughness and vigilance. We must be smart!" Trump is fond of the exclamation point. But his GOP allies in Congress blocked a bill the day after the San Bernardino slaughter which would have denied people on the terrorist watch list the ability to buy a gun. Bowing to NRA pressure, the Republicans reasoned that Americans who are wrongly on the list should be afforded their constitutional rights. They can't fly, but buying a gun is fine. Trump then called for Obama to be removed from office for refusing to use the term, "radical Islamic terrorism," and Fox News hammered that message all night. Obama has repeatedly explained, "the term 'radical Islam' grants them a religious legitimacy they don't deserve. We are not at war with Islam, we are at war with people who have perverted Islam." George W. Bush said much the same thing, only he wasn't a secret Kenyan Muslim.

As expected, the trolls were out on social media saying the same predictable things. "Arm yourselves before they kill us all." The hatred boiled over for Muslims the world over, even though the same people were praising Muhammad Ali just a day before. The Orlando jihadist's ex-wife said he wanted to be a policeman. She also said he beat her and isolated her from others until she was rescued by her family. A co-worker said, "I complained multiple times that he didn't like blacks, women, lesbians, and Jews." The wannabe ISIS fighter said he wished he could kill all black people, hardly inspired by Islam. "You meet bigots, " the co-worker continued, "but he was above and beyond." The NRA apologists continue to say, "enforce the laws already on the books," but obviously they're not effective. "Don't blame the weapon, it's just a tool." The Assault Weapons Ban may not have done much to put a dent in gun crime, but it would have prevented this slaughter. And Aurora. And San Bernardino. And Sandy Hook. There is a theory going around in some right-wing circles that Sandy Hook was a hoax perpetrated by the government in order to begin confiscating firearms. Maybe if the Newtown crime scene photos of children blown to pieces were released, the country might be shocked back into reality. Or maybe not, but has anyone noticed that in eight years, Obama hasn't confiscated a single gun? After this gruesome bloodbath, thoughts and prayers aren't enough. Maybe we need to try stricter laws and regulations instead.