As a Floridian, I was pretty shaken 76 days ago when the Pulse club, a gay night spot in Orlando, was shot up by a guy claiming allegiance to the Islamic State. I couldn’t write about it then, but having just poured cool water to mourn the victims for the last time on Friday, I thought it was appropriate that I say something now.
The debate at the time was whether more stringent gun control laws would have helped, especially since the shooter had been on the FBI watch list. Some said, “It’s a gun control issue,” while others said, “It’s a terrorism issue.”
To which I say, what are you guys talking about? Clearly it’s both, and quite possibly a mental health issue as well (because sane people don’t generally shoot up nightclubs).
This world we live in is complicated. You can’t say, “It’s a terrorism issue only, so let’s not touch gun laws,” or “It’s a gun control issue only, so let’s not look at the mental health side.” (Well, you could say those things, technically, but you would be wrong.)
Of course, it’s possible that there’s nothing we could have done in retrospect that would have made a difference. It’s possible that, as the 2013-14 FBI investigations showed, there really was “nothing there” on Omar Mateen, the shooter, and that later there became “something there” that just was not obvious to anyone until June 12. We’ll never know. We can only do our best.
That said, these shootings happen too damn often. We aren’t doing our best yet. We need to try harder.
If, like me, you feel we need to try harder, there are groups out there trying to get Congress’ attention on the issue of guns. One of them is Everytown for Gun Safety, which I donate to when I can.
For more information on the Pulse shooting, Wikipedia has a very good write-up.
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