Yesterday morning, I, along with most of the nation, awakened to the terrible news of the worst shooting spree ever to happen in our nation, with 50 people killed and 53 others injured. I knew immediately what the reactions of the vociferous few would be, and I was not to be disappointed. I intentionally did not post about this last night or this morning, as I needed some time and distance before I could do so. However, my tongue cannot stand being bitten any longer, so this is the first of two posts addressing various aspects of this horrific event.
First, it was inevitable that those who support nearly unlimited rights to gun ownership and use would immediately use this tragedy as propaganda to make their case for less restrictive gun laws and the myth that ‘everyone would be safer if more people carried concealed weapons’. Second, also inevitable, those who already mistrust and hate Muslims renewed their insistence that Islam is the problem, Muslims should be banned, blah, blah, blah. I suppose those who prefer an easy, immediate answer to the question “WHY?” must seek to blame, must look at the nearest target at which to point their finger. But in reality, there are no easy or immediate answers.
The whole issue of guns, 2nd Amendment rights, gun regulation/control, is my second least-favourite topic about which to write (religion is my least favourite). It generally sets in motion more negativity than I need. That said, I am also rarely, if ever, one to shy away from controversy.
Donald Trump, on hearing of the horrific tragedy in Orlando this weekend (which I will cover in a later post, but today it is still too soon), saw yet another opportunity to propagandize a tragedy in order to promote his Islamophobia and renew his call to ban Muslims from entering the country. He also insists that if he becomes president he will establish a database of all Muslims in order to closely monitor them. I cry FOUL! Apart from the whole ‘freedom of religion’ issue, let us look at some facts. I dug into the statistics, and based on what I found, the group that we really need to ban from this country, if in fact that is the answer, is white males! Fully 61% of all mass shootings in the U.S. between 1982 – 2015 were committed by white people, mostly males. Only two mass shooters during that time frame were women, one Hispanic and one white.
In the chart below, the statistics show the number of mass shootings in the United States between 1982 and 2015, by race and ethnicity of the shooter(s). Between 1982 and 2015, 44 out of 72 mass shootings were initiated by white shooters.
Mass shootings in U.S. between 1982-2015 by shooters race & ethnicity*:
|Race||# of perpetrators||Pct (%)|
Now seriously, who, if anybody, should be banned or ‘monitored’ via database? Who are you most likely to trust? I live in a neighborhood that is about 40% African-American, 25% Middle-Eastern (Muslim), 15% Hispanic, and 20% Caucasian (white). In the nearly 20 years I have lived here, the only people I have ever had problems with were white, Caucasians. They are the reason I keep my doors locked. Think about that for a minute!
While I am on the topic, let us look at the number of people killed each year by terrorism as opposed to those killed by senseless gun violence other than terrorism (see chart below). So would somebody please explain how the politicians are able to stir such a fear of terrorism in the nation whose citizens have only lost 311 people to terrorism (excluding 9/11), as opposed to 130,347 lives lost due to senseless gun violence? I am more afraid of the bimbo in the grocery store with a gun in her purse, or the ‘macho-man’ swaggering through a parking lot with a gun barely concealed under his jacket than I am any person of Middle-Eastern heritage!
U.S. Deaths from gun violence and terrorism compared*:
|Year||Gun deaths||Deaths from terrorism|
Now there is just one more thing I want to address here, and that is the tired old saying that right-wingers and gun advocates throw out when other words fail them: “well, the criminals will get guns anyway, so why bother with stricter gun regulations?” Let us think about this one for a few moments. Yes, there is some truth to the fact that a determined criminal who has his mind set on shooting someone will likely find a way to obtain a gun. Omar Mateen, the Orlando shooter, certainly would have had no trouble obtaining his weapons. HOWEVER, … why should that stop us from making rational and enforceable laws? A person who drives drunk will do so if he feels so inclined, so does that mean we should not have laws against DUI? A speeder will likely do 85 mph down the highway, but does that mean we should just throw our hands up and say, “oh well, no point in making laws against it, as they will only do it anyway.” Sorry folks, but that is about the absolute stupidest argument I have ever heard. And for you gun lovers out there … I am not talking about laws to strip you of your guns, but I am talking about stricter regulations to ensure that people are fully vetted and pass a test to prove that they can safely handle a gun, perhaps even a class to teach them about keeping guns out of the hands of children. Those are not a threat to your ‘rights’, those are common sense! Get over yourselves and remember that you are not the only person who counts in this world.
Check out this post by Erik Hare of Barataria for a thoughtful, insightful perspective that I think you will enjoy. Constant Outrage
Okay, enough ranting from me for today. My fingertips are sore from pounding the keys! My main point in this whole rant is that we simply must stop blaming all Muslims every time one of them performs an act of terrorism. There is no more justification for that line of thinking than there is of blaming the entire Caucasian race every time a white person such as Dylan Roof goes on a spree. Blame the perpetrator of the crime, not his whole race, not his entire religion. Don’t let the politicians like Trump scare you with ‘monsters in the closet’. The U.S. has been fortunate that other than 9/11, we really have not been victims of wide-scale terrorist attacks. Those we have seen have been mostly domestic, lone-wolf terrorism, episodes by self-radicalized individuals. Stop and put things in perspective. Think before opening your mouth. Look at facts, not meaningless rhetoric. We do not need a wall; we do not need to ban people based on their religion. We need to monitor ourselves and use a bit of common sense. Think about it.
* All data obtained from Statista http://www.statista.com/aboutus/
** Includes deaths on 11 September 2001 in New York, Washington D.C. and Shanksville, Pa.