Sohn: All mass violence is terrorism, and guns make it easy

Sohn: All mass violence is terrorism, and guns make it easy

October 3rd, 2017 by Pam Sohn in Opinion Times

A wounded person is walked in on a wheelbarrow as Las Vegas police respond during an active shooter situation on the Las Vegas Stirp in Las Vegas Sunday. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Photo by Chase Stevens

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Perhaps we need a travel ban on terrorists from Nevada.

After all, a resident there just killed at least 59 people and injured more than 525 as he rained gunfire down on a country music performance from a high-rise hotel window.

But no, our president just called the American carnage "an act of pure evil" and moved on. "Our unity cannot be shattered by evil, our bonds cannot be broken by violence."

It's hard not to be cynical when the most divisive president we've ever had talks about "unity."

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But this morning, the families of at least 59 people will be planning funerals instead of hearing their loved ones talk about how much fun they had at a Sunday night concert in Las Vegas.

This morning, police will still be picking apart why an otherwise unremarkable white guy carried at least 19 guns into a hotel room over the weekend, used them and then killed himself as police descended on his room.

ISIS claimed credit, but authorities have roundly debunked their opportunist fake news move.

No, this guy was just a guy. A retired accountant. A gambler. A terrorist.

Oh, but wait. We usually reserve that last term for dark-skinned people. For foreigners.

So in the bleak light of Monday when the president said, "Even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope," it was a muted response from a man who usually seizes on mass acts of violence — even those in other countries — as an opportunity to warn of the threat of "radical Islamic terrorism" and to justify banning people from majority Muslim countries.

Trump first proposed his travel ban after the December 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif.

The next June when the American son of an Afghan immigrant opened fire in an Orlando, Fla., gay nightclub, then-presumptive nominee Trump said it was further evidence of the need for a travel ban.

We've heard no official label of terrorist for the likes of Dylan Roof, the white supremacist who killed nine black church worshipers in Charleston, S.C.; or Robert Lewis Dear Jr., the religious fanatic who opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.

A church shooting in Nashville just more than a week ago by a Sudanese-born American citizen who killed one and injured seven went unaddressed by our president. That was the weekend when Trump was obsessed with NFL protest kneeling.

Here, in Chattanooga we've had a deadly attack on military servicemen. The shooter was a Kuwait-born American citizen whom the FBI and President Barack Obama did label as inspired by foreign terrorists.

"The terrorist threat has evolved into a new phase," Obama said in December 2015. "As we've become better at preventing complex, multifaceted attacks like 9/11, terrorists turned to less-complicated acts of violence like the mass shootings that are all too common in our society. It is this type of attack that we saw at Fort Hood in 2009, in Chattanooga earlier this year and now in San Bernardino."

But when white guy Robert Doggart of the Sequatchie County end of Signal Mountain spent his retirement days planning with others to burn down a mosque in a Muslim community known as Islamberg in Hancock County, N.Y., and kill the residents, our authorities charged him only with "solicitation to commit a civil rights violation."

How about conspiracy to attempt terrorism?

"We will be cruel to them," Doggart said of the people of Islamberg. "And we will burn down their buildings ... And if it gets down to the machete, we will cut them to shreds. ... I don't want to have to kill children, but there's always collateral damage."

Now once more, officials Monday define this newest shooter in a mass shooting — this one is in Las Vegas — as the work of a "lone wolf" attacker.

Enough, already.

He is not a lone wolf. He is not mentally ill. It doesn't matter what inspired him. He is a terrorist.

Every one of the aforementioned killers are terrorists: no matter what their skin color, no matter what their nationality, no matter their politics, no matter their religion, no matter their shoe size.

And instead of running around banning travel from majority Muslim countries, perhaps we might try banning some gun sales instead.

But no. No, we don't even require universal background checks for people buying guns.

The more guns the merrier is our American motto. And every day — mass shooting or not — nearly 100 Americans die from gunfire.

American carnage, indeed.

But we are not banning guns or gun sales or certain types of guns. Instead, we're slowly but surely banning even the slightest requirements for gun permits or gun carry permits. We're even working to make it easier to buy gun silencers. Meanwhile, we're banning travel from countries that are war-torn — where some refugees desperately need safe haven.

Trump is right to call for unity.

But he, and our country, should also walk the walk of unity.

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