Over the weekend, the most horrific gun related terror attack in the country took place. A man, Omar Mateen, walked into a gay bar in Orlando, FL and started shooting everyone in sight. At the end, at least 50 people were killed and at least 53 people were seriously wounded. There is no other term to use to describe this horrible event except it was an act of terror.
Additionally, in California, another man, James Wesley Howell, was arrested in Santa Monica. He was on his way from Indiana to the gay pride parade in South Hollywood, CA. It is doubtful that he intended to “march” in the parade since he was carrying several weapons including rifles, handguns, large amounts of ammunition, and explosives. He never said he intended to “shoot up” the parade, but why would anyone from Indiana head to California with that many weapons just to watch?
It is also important to note that both incidents involved the LGBT community. The father of Mateen even said that his son had seen two men kissing in public in Miami about a month before the attack and it made him very angry. We don’t know if that was the impetus for the shooting, or if he really is interested in ISIS like a 911 call he made said.
The fact is, we don’t know what caused him to enter this particular club and open fire. We can be sure of one thing. He purposefully targeted a gay bar. I don’t care if you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or any other religion, targeting gays can only be described as hate for people different from ourselves.
We have seen a lot of argument, discussion, and stupid laws being passed in this country about LGBT rights. These actions have had a very negative effect on the LGBT community, and has made them even more of a target than before all of this hate speech began. There is no doubt in my mind that this person targeted the LGBT community simply because he hates gays.
The responses we have heard from both the right and left of our political establishment has been typical. Most express their “sympathy for the victims and their survivors”. Most ask that we “pray for the victims and their families”. We have seen “moments of silence” at sports events and other events during the last 24 hours. We have heard the usual talking points, but not very much else.
Except for Donald Trump. He almost sounded gleeful exclaiming “I was right about Islamic Terrorists”. Anyone could have predicted that another terrorist attack was going to happen. And, until all of the facts are in, I hesitate to call this a “Radical Islamic Terrorist” attack. The shooter was a U.S. citizen, not a Muslim immigrant.
There was one thing that Donald Trump did say that almost made sense. He said it was “time to put political correctness to rest and confront our problems.” In that vein, I recommend that Congress do exactly that. Stop using “political correctness” as an excuse and do something about our very lax gun laws.
It doesn’t matter if this was a “Islamic Terrorist” attack, an “anti-LGBT Terrorist” attack, or just a “Domestic Terrorist” attack. The villain used an AR 15 assault rifle that he purchased legally just a couple of day before his rampage. The man in California apparently also purchased his guns legally. And, that is the problem with trying to stop terrorism in this country. The ease in which bad people can purchase guns.
We have had way too many gun related “mass shootings” in this country. They have occurred at schools, movie theaters, night clubs, parades, and just about everywhere else. All of the guns that were used were purchased legally by the criminals who caused the massacres. Yet, nothing is being done about it.
The right-wing states that the Second Amendment gives all Americans the right to bear arms. That is true to a point which we will discuss later. Before we get to that point, we must remember that the conservatives, especially Ted Cruz, loved Justice Antonin Scalia. According to them, he is the “constitutional purist” that all justices should be like.
Finally, Mateen has been on the FBI Terrorist Watch list for some time. He was interviewed more than once about possible terrorist connections. All investigations were closed because there was no proof of his connections to terrorism, yet he was able to purchase an assault rifle legally.
Which brings us to the Second Amendment. There was a case that went before the Supreme Court about handguns and restrictions in Washington, D.C. The law passed there said that all handguns were to be either disassembled or have a trigger lock on it when kept in a house. The court ruled that was unconstitutional and prevented the owner from quickly using the handgun for its intended purpose of defending one’s home. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion in the case.
The case was the first time that handguns were declared to be protected under the Second Amendment without the individual being “part of a militia”. However, in his opinion, there was a second paragraph Scalia wrote that conservatives resoundly ignore. It reads:
(2) Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. Pp. 54–56.
What Scalia is basically saying is that although we do have a right to bear arms, the Second Amendment does not limit the government from placing restrictions on the types of weapons allowed to be carried and under what conditions you may carry arms. Which brings us to the AR 15 Assault Rifle.
This weapon began its life as the M-16 rifle used by the military. The M-16 was originally made as a fully automatic rifle. It was later modified to a semi-automatic rifle and sold to the public under the name of AR 15. There is only one purpose for the AR 15. It is intended to kill as many people in as short amount of time as possible.
Anyone who tells you they use their AR 15 on hunting exercises is full of shit. The AR 15 causes too much damage to the “animal” they claim to be hunting. No responsible hunter uses a semi-automatic rifle when hunting. The only purpose for the AR 15 is to kill many people at one time.
In the 1990s Congress passed a law banning assault rifles. It had a “time period” attached to it, and when the time period lapsed, Congress failed to renew the legislation. Since then, the AR 15 has become the weapon of choice for mass shooters of all kinds. Since the ban was lifted, more and more of these assault rifles have been sold.
The conservatives, as well as their mouthpiece the NRA, has fought tooth-and-nail to keep universal background checks from becoming a reality. They argue that even if you are on the “Terrorist Watchlist” you are not convicted of being a terrorist, so if you are an American Citizen, you can still purchase the weapon. Enter Omar Mateen. Someone on the watch list yet bought an AR 15 legally.
If Donald Trump is not just spouting words, then he should be leading the charge against “political correctness” and immediately call for the banning of assault rifles, initiating universal background checks, and banning people on the Terrorist Watchlist from purchasing weapons.
Congress has been ineffective about gun violence in our society. There is simply too much money involved in campaign contributions to go against the NRA. There is too much worry about the NRA going against any member of Congress with the courage to stand up to them and their fantasy world.
They even have cover from their “constitutional purist” Justice Antonin Scalia who has given them the words that overcomes the NRA’s arguments. According to the quote above, the government has the right to ban assault rifles. It has the right to impose universal background checks to ensure criminals and mentally impaired persons don’t purchase guns. It has the right to include people on the Terrorist Watchlist to the groups banned from owning guns.
Republicans don’t want anything to do with any of those common sense laws. It means, especially when looking at their “Southern Strategy” to win elections, many of their supporters may find themselves not being able to legally own weapons. There are many domestic groups in this country that are considered terrorist organizations. Groups like the KKK or Aryan Nation and many others. These white supremacist groups are just as deadly towards Americans as any foreign terrorist organization. Since they live here and can purchase weapons with impunity, they are even more dangerous.
I don’t know about you, but I am very sick and tired of the same old bullshit being put forth by the right-wing in this country when it comes to gun violence. It is way past the time when something needs to be done. I am not even suggesting that these common sense laws would stop this kind of violence. I know there is a black-market waiting to sell more weapons than they already do.
But, it is a beginning point. It is something that will make it harder for the casual citizen from legally purchasing a weapon when they are on a list that says they should not be allowed to own a weapon. These common sense laws would do nothing to take away anyone’s guns or their right to own a gun. Except people like terrorists and criminals who we don’t want to have guns in the first place.
No one’s “right to bear arms” would be infringed if that person was a “law-abiding” citizen. There is nothing in these common sense laws that would say otherwise. Think about this. If you are on the Terrorist Watchlist, you cannot board a plane to visit your children across the country, but you can go into a gun shop and legally purchase an assault weapon. To be barred from flying you just need to be on the watch list. You don’t have had to been convicted of a terrorist act.
Would you please explain to me what is right about that? Just so the pinheads on the right understand this, let me use Justice Scalia’s own words:
Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.
That is all we need to quote in order to force a change in our gun laws. The NRA be damned! They are wrong. The “open carry” gun nuts are wrong. The “right to bear arms” is not unlimited. Which also means it is not “your God-given right” either.
Unfortunately, there will be more terrorist attacks in this country and around the world. Hate has no time to sleep. It is forever active. How much damage is actually done to our citizens is dependent upon what we are willing to do as a nation to stem the gun nonsense. As President Obama said: “silence on guns is also an action”.
We are always told to “pray” after one of these tragic events. If you are so inclined to “pray” then I suggest you “pray” that our Congress will finally be courageous enough to take on the NRA and pass common sense laws to make it more difficult for these “terrorists” from getting their weapons. If their action continues to be silence on the problem, the next attack may be even worse. The victims may include someone you know or love. We will then have no one to blame but ourselves.
Think and “pray” about that!