Thursday, June 16, 2016

Mass murder in Orlando

The recent mass murder at a gay nightclub in Orlando has prompted four musings.
First, the shooters in both the Orlando and the San Bernardino attacks apparently fully complied with Federal firearms laws when the attackers purchased the weapons used in those attacks. This is not an argument against background checks and other requirements. Instead, this observation points to the inadequacy of present laws to keep people safe.
Second, the shooter in Orlando, like the shooters in San Bernardino, appears to have had no links to any terror group, domestic or foreign. As I have previously argued in Ethical Musings, considering all mass murder as terrorism unhelpfully conflates two different types of crime. Tightening immigration policies would not have prevented the Orlando attack.
Third, the ultimate path to a safer society consists of promoting respect for the dignity and worth of all persons. Laws that encourage divisiveness (e.g., laws in North Carolina about who can use which public restroom) tacitly incite prejudicial acts by individuals and groups. Laws intended to make ownership easier or more widespread similarly, if subtly, are catalysts for greater violence. If the US is not going to repeal the Second Amendment, then churches and concerned citizens should advocate the voluntary destruction of personal firearms. Fewer firearms create a safer community by reducing the chances of accidental death. In time, with expanded support for voluntary firearm destruction, the movement will gain sufficient traction to contribute to reducing the number of mass murders by gun and to perhaps lead to repeal of the Second Amendment. In an age of nuclear weapons, fighter jets, crew served weapons, armored vehicles, and other modern implements of warfighting, personal firearms no longer represent an effective deterrence to the emergence of tyranny.

Fourth, responses that do little beyond offering prayers and sympathy for the deceased and bereaved may seem to express laudatory concern for neighbors. However, genuine concern for neighbors requires more than verbal statements. Loving all of our neighbors requires welcoming the stranger, standing against hate in all of its manifestations, and enacting laws to make communities safer.

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