Here we go again. Another act of ‘domestic terrorism,’ and this one left over 100 people injured or dead. The shooter, 29-year old Omar Mateen, broke the old record set by James Holmes, who shot 72 people in a Colorado movie theater in 2012, of whom 60 survived. And Holmes broke Seung-Hui Cho’s 2007 record of 49 victims at Virginia Tech, and on it goes back to Charlie Whitman, who gunned down 49 people from his perch in the Texas University Tower in 1966, although only 16 lost their lives.
There’s an unemployed academic out there pretending to be a researcher named John Lott, who actually tried to ‘prove’ that at least ten other countries have higher death rates from mass public shootings than what we experience here in the U.S.A. Which is not hard to do if a country has a fraction of our population and one mass shooting takes place. But any rational, normal and semi-intelligent person who actually believes that mass shootings are an everyday fact of life anywhere but in the United States is either hopelessly delusional or is simply trying to burnish his shopworn credentials as an NRA flack.
The bottom line is that there have been three horrendous shootings in the last seven months (Umpqua, San Bernardino, Orlando) which together have resulted in the loss of 74 lives, and I’m not even bothering to count the little mass shootings – a few bodies here, a few bodies there – which take place all the time. Our friends at the Gun Violence Archive count 25 shootings with at least 4 victims each time over the last – ready? – three weeks!
Maybe we haven’t figured out what to do about this seemingly unstoppable carnage, but what does seem to be emerging from the unending slaughters is a convenient way of ignoring the use of guns. Because the problem isn’t the gun, after all, it’s the person who uses the gun, and that person is now invariably described as a ‘domestic terrorist,’ which I guess means someone who is somehow tied to some kind of terrorist organization but happens to permanently live and was maybe even born in the United States. Back in the old days, meaning before the 2016 presidential election cycle, the term ‘domestic terrorist’ was usually applied to an American who had actually been in contact with a terrorist organization, or had received or planned to receive training in terrorist activities, or in some other way was directly involved in terrorist behavior of some sort. In 2014, two young Americans from Minnesota were killed fighting with ISIS in Somalia and Iraq; home-grown terrorist bomb plots have recently been thwarted in Wichita, Boston and New York.
Of course depending on what political gains can be made from the anguish and fear that any mass shooting evokes in the general population, the presumptive Republican candidate, Street Thug Trump, wanders back and forth between condemning ‘domestic terrorism’ and ‘radical Islamic terrorism,’ but let’s leave Street Thug alone, because he’s incapable of understanding what the real issue is all about.
And the real issue runs like this. Omar Mateen was young, he was stable enough to hold down a job, he was socially isolated and alienated but he was, and this is very important, he was able to get his hands on a gun. And the gun he chose to carry into Pulse was what has become the weapon of choice for young men who want to kill lots of people in one place – an AR-15.
So it doesn’t matter whether this shooter was a ‘domestic terrorist,’ or a ‘radical Islamic terrorist,’ or a homophobic maniac or whatever else he was or claimed to be. He walked into a gun shop and bought some guns. And that’s the real reason that 49 patrons at the Pulse are now dead. It’s the gun stupid, it’s the gun.
Don’t’ forget to donate to the Orlando Pulse fund. I just did.