“Today we are dealing with something we never imagined, and is unimaginable.”
Buddy Dyer, Mayor of Orlando, Florida
Last night, the largest mass murder in United States history took place at Pulse nightclub, one of the premier gay nightclubs in Orlando, Florida. The attack, which the FBI says was ‘organized and well-prepared’, has left fifty dead and fifty three wounded. The attack started at 2:00 am, where the shooter entered the nightclub and began to open fire. He then took hostages, and it was not until approximately 5:00 am that the police took aggressive action and stormed the club in an attempt to free the hostages. They were successful. The perpetrator was killed in the ensuing shootout.
Here’s what we know about the shooter so far. His name was Omar Mateen. He was 29 years old. He had been married twice, and has a young son. He worked as a security guard, and he wanted to be a police officer, often hanging out with cops and going to shooting ranges with them. His first wife divorced him, stating that Omar was abusive and controlling. She mentioned that he’d occasionally denounce homosexuality when violent. She also mentioned that he may have been mentally unstable, with violent mood swings and unpredictable behavior. He wasn’t overly religious when they first met, but in an effort to straighten his life out, was slowly becoming a more devout Muslim.
He was on the FBI’s radar prior to the attacks, first for making inflammatory comments to coworkers, and then for having ties to a US radical who eventually became a suicide bomber in Syria. Even though he was under the eyes of the FBI, he still had two valid firearms licenses, a security officer’s license and a statewide firearms license. A few days prior to the shooting, he legally purchased the handgun and semi-automatic rifle he used to murder dozens of people. Before the attack, he made a call to 911, stating his allegiance to ISIS.
From all this information, we can try to piece together exactly what kind of attack this was. Yes, this was an attack on the LGBTQ community. Yes, you can call this a domestic terror attack. Yes, the person was mentally unstable.
Now, you could say this shows the LGBTQ community is still under threat and marginalized, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to disagree with you. You could say that radical Islamic terrorists are a security threat to the United States, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to disagree with you. You could say that this demonstrates a serious problem with how mental illness is looked at and dealt with by our society, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to disagree with you. Personally, I’m still shaking my head at one crucial detail; how was a man, who had issues with the LGBTQ community, who was known to associate with terrorists, who was known to have a violent past with his ex-wife, how on Earth did this person manage to walk into a gun store and legally purchase firearms?
The deadliest mass murder in the history of the United States. It’s impressive, in an incredibly twisted sort of way, that someone was able to kill that many people on their own. What’s even more impressive, is the laundry list of politicians, celebrities and talking heads that are shocked, I mean absolutely one hundred percent shocked, that another mass shooting took place in America. I’m not shocked. Truthfully, the only thing shocking about this is the number of killed and wounded. And the reason I’m not shocked is that a mass shooting takes place in the United States almost everyday.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a link to shootingtracker.com, considered by many to be the authority on mass shootings. Note that a mass shooting is defined by an incident where four or more people are shot, resulting in them being killed or wounded. Click on a year, and you are going to find that mass shootings in the US happen frequently. There was five mass shootings on June 11th, there was one on the 9th, another two on the 8th, one on the 6th, four mass shootings on the 5th, and one on the 4th. Before the shooting last night, there have been 14 mass shootings in the United States, with 19 dead and 44 wounded. In the month of June.
I’m not trying to downplay the attack last night. I’m not saying this wasn’t an attack on a vulnerable community, because it was. I’m not saying this man didn’t have ties to radical terrorists, because he did. And I’m not saying that this man wasn’t mentally ill, because anyone who decides to murder a large number of people probably is. What I’m saying is the only reason you are hearing about this, the only reason this is news is the number of dead. If the same attack took place and he had been less successful, killing three and wounding two for example, it wouldn’t have left the local Orlando news. This is news because it’s an outlier, an anomaly in a culture that accepts mass shootings as the norm.
This is a phenomenon unique to the United States gun culture. This doesn’t happen anywhere else in the Western world. If you want to understand why it happened, just know this; a disturbed man with ties to terrorists and a hatred of homosexuality was able to walk into a store and purchase a handgun and a rifle. Because even though he was a homophobic, mentally unstable terrorist, he was an American citizen first. And we certainly wouldn’t want to trample on the right to bear arms in America.
The Illustrious Mr. Charlton
p.s. Until they reform gun laws in the US, the mass shootings will continue.