Monday, June 13, 2016

Orlando Shootings

I first heard about this while my son and I were on a weekend road trip to Massachusetts. At the time, details were sketchy, and the shooting had only taken place a few hours before.

As details emerged, the true horror of it began to be revealed. It was estimated that roughly two dozen people had been killed, and many more injured.

Before long, this began to be defined as a "hate crime." Truth be told, I am not sure what to think about that label in particular. I know why it was employed as such, although frankly, mass shootings in general seem pretty hateful in general to me. Maybe Adam Lanza was not specifically targeting homosexuals, and maybe neither were Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold. But acts of mass murder like that certainly seem to qualify as hatred to me.

In any case, by the time that more details emerged yesterday, certain things became much clearer. Incredibly, this has become the biggest mass shooting incident in American history, as 50 people are dead and, last I hear, 53 injured.

The descriptions suggested that the man responsible, Omar Mateen, had links to terrorism. He had taken trips to some Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, and before the shootings very early Sunday morning, he had pledged his allegiance to ISIS.

As a result, President Obama described this act as an act of both hate and of terror. Indeed, it does not appear that the target of the gunman's rage was a gay nightclub, as he expressed outrage and disgust, as well as apparent venomous rage, after seeing two men in Miami kissing.

Mateen died in a shootout with police following his rampage. He was a natural born U.S. citizen, although he had a violent and troubled past.

Still, that did not prevent him from accessing assault weapons with an alarming degree of ease, which enabled him to do what he did.

Of course, the standard reaction after some episode like this is for prominent politicians to express their sympathies, and to say that they will be praying for the victims and the families of the victims. I saw a very similar message to this from Hillary Clinton.

In the meantime, we await for the gun debate to once again open up.

However, I read a quote (I cannot find it right now, sorry to say) that was interesting and telling, which basically suggested that the gun debate had already been settled years ago, when measures for tighter, more sensible gun control laws were defeated following the Sandy Hook shootings. Essentially, the guy who said this suggested that when America seemed to be okay with the killing of young children, then nothing can be expected to change.

It would be nice to see this particular episode at least lead to more sensible gun legislation, but I do not believe that it will.

In the meantime, this is not a typical mass shooting, even though, really, there is nothing typical about mass shootings in general. But this one was an act of terrorism, officially, and it is labeled a hate crime against a minority group. Plus, I suspect that some hate-filled people might not feel all that sympathetic towards the victims.

Still, this is a tragedy on a scale that has not been seen yet in the United States, although with guns still so easily and readily available, one has to wonder how long it will be before some other madman aims for an even bigger victim list.

For my part, my thoughts are with the victims, although it comes with an acknowledgement that we, as Americans, are failing these people, and we should be doing much, much more to make sure incidents like this never happen again.

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