By Robert A. Vella
We live in an age of violent extremism, and America has pushed itself to the front-lines on literally every front at home and abroad. It is fighting Islamist Jihadists worldwide. It is waging cold war against Russia and China. It is conducting clandestine, subversive operations against left-wing governments wherever they hold power. It is interceding on behalf of and against various sectarian factions in the Middle East where alliances are frail and where morality is weak. It is struggling to contain violent expressions of bigotry, racism, and radical Christian fundamentalism on its own soil. It is being attacked internally by the perverse forces of greed and fanatical right-wing ideology. In short, America is embattled everywhere.
It should not be surprising to anyone, then, that a rogue lunatic would want to commit mass murder in such a nation. After all, battlefields are for killing, aren’t they? When choosing to designate or build battlefields, people should expect the onset of death and destruction; that is, if they are thinking clearly and are being honest with themselves.
America’s gun culture, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and their political operatives (primarily Republican officials), actually is thinking clearly and being honest with itself. To the rest of the country, however, it is speaking quite dishonestly. In my personal opinion, America’s gun culture is reaping exactly what it wants – violent social instability which will inevitably bring down the federal government and transfer political power back to the states (see: the Articles of Confederation, States’ Rights, and the American Civil War). During the process, its firearms manufacturers would – of course – earn great profits. Sans an effective central government, legal protections for civil, voting, and workers’ rights would be at the mercy of individual states, as would gender and sexual equality, access to abortion and healthcare, secular prohibitions against theocracy, and a whole host of other progressive advances deemed antithetical to modern conservatism.
At least at its highest levels, America’s gun culture is very sophisticated – sufficiently so to recognize that any open public debate on its true motives would prove devastating to its cause (as long as America maintains any semblance of democracy). Although sophisticated, I personally see its agenda as perversely sick (in the psychological sense). Let’s now examine the Orlando shootings within this context.
From The New York Times – Orlando Gunman Was on Terror Watchlist, F.B.I. Director Says:
WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. director said on Monday that the gunman [Omar Mateen] in the mass killing in Orlando was on a terrorist watchlist from 2013 to 2014, but that months of intense investigation into his foreign travels, his inflammatory language with co-workers and his possible motivations did not produce enough evidence to arrest him. [clarification by The Secular Jurist]
Mr. Mateen seems to have been “inspired” and “radicalized” by the Islamic State’s radical ideology, Mr. Comey said, but he did not appear to have received support from anyone overseas or from others in the United States based on the evidence to date. That “lone wolf” approach made it much more difficult to head off the attack, he said.
Investigators said Mateen legally bought the two weapons he used in the nightclub attack — an AR-15-style rifle and a handgun — in the past week. Orlando police said a third weapon was found in Mateen’s vehicle.
In addition to radical motivations, Comey said the FBI is considering whether the gunman was acting out against gays in particular because of his own anti-gay sentiments. The Pulse nightclub has been a key part of the local LGBT community, as The Two-Way has reported.
During the FBI’s 10-month inquiry, agents spoke to Mateen twice; Comey said that in the end, Mateen explained his earlier statements by saying he had been angry over what he called teasing and discrimination from his coworkers.
Q: Why can people on the terrorist watch list buy guns?
A: That’s the law. Being on a terrorist watch list is not “in and of itself a disqualifying factor” for people purchasing firearms and explosives, according to a 2013 report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.
The FBI is notified when someone on a list applies to purchase a gun, often resulting in increased surveillance of a suspect. But being a suspected or known terrorist is not one such category.
People don’t need background checks to buy guns from unlicensed sellers, such as from some who offer firearms at gun shows or online. It’s unclear exactly how many guns are sold that way.
Q: What would [Senator Diane] Feinstein’s bill do? [clarification by The Secular Jurist]
A: It would let the attorney general deny firearms and explosives to people known or suspected of being involved in terrorist activities. It’s not necessarily based on the government’s terrorist list.
The Senate rejected it last December by a near party-line vote, and barring an unexpected compromise the same fate likely awaits it.
Last year’s vote occurred a day after an extremist couple killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif. Nearly all Republicans opposed Feinstein’s proposal, saying owning guns is a constitutional right and noting that some people have been erroneously suspected as terrorists.
This tragic case clearly demonstrates the hypocrisy of America’s gun culture. On the one hand it bloviates profusely about “national security” and “stopping the ‘bad guys'” while actively working to defeat any such countermeasures with its other hand. For these reasons, America’s gun culture – reflected within the warlike nation at large – is ultimately responsible for Orlando. Had it not been a Muslim wacko shooter, it would have been some other wacko shooter. Aggression begets aggression, and violence begets violence. It’s the American Way, and it will be our epitaph.