Editorial: ISIS and the new American dream
Well, it's all over now. ISIS - or at least people inspired by ISIS - have struck on American soil. No point in discussing background checks, or restrictions on firearms, or anything of that ilk. It's time to arm yourself, and arm yourself well. You could be next.
Tashfeen Malik, who joined her American husband, Syed Farook, in shooting up a roomful of county employees in San Bernardino, Calif., apparently swore allegiance to ISIS in a Facebook post. They killed 14 and injured 21, and later were riddled with bullets after police tracked them down.
So that's the final argument, right? "Put all Muslims in a database," people say.
But consider this - they already were in several databases, just like the rest of us. Driver's licenses. Tax records. Travel records. Facebook. Amazon.com.
Nothing flagged them. Apparently Farook had "soft connections" with someone under investigation for terrorism, but that's law enforcement speak for "we weren't really worried about it."
And background checks? Malik went through one! So did many of our mass shooters, because in America, we have plenty of mass shooters. Even those with criminal records or histories of mental illness didn't raise red flags. If you want a gun, you can get one, somehow, so why bother with rules and checks and responsibility?
And yet people still clamor for them. What fools! It wouldn't have stopped these particular shooters, so there's no point in changes. Nothing can be done. Right?
Headed to the golf course, honey. Yes, we'll be exposed out there, but I'll slip the .308 in with my golf clubs. Fore!
Maybe, instead, we should all get rifles of the type this couple carried. AR-15 type rifles, based on military specs, capable of blanketing a room with firepower. We need these. We'll sit on our roofs at night, watching for terrorists. Boo!
Never mind facts, or context, or logic, or a sense of proportion. Shoot first, ask questions never. That's the new American Dream.
Yes, my love, I'm ready. I'll get the list, you get the 9mm, so we'll be safe at the grocery store.
Still, something's nagging at me. I think it's this - there are at least 357 million guns in America, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (and that's 2013 data). There are now 322 million people in the United States. That means every man, woman and child in America could have a gun, and there would millions left over in reserve.
And yet, when these horrible acts of violence happen, the dominant answer always seems to be: "More guns." If only someone in that room, or that school, or that parking lot, had been armed, they totally could've stopped that shooter.
Is that what we've come to? Are we to be a paranoid nation, walking around armed and wary with itchy trigger fingers?
I hope not, but these days, hope is an illusion. For instance, I hope we can stop thinking of guns as a solution. Firearms are useful tools, sure, but solving problems involves people working together, finding common ground, and forging ahead with a plan to accomplish a goal. It's easy to shoot someone. What's hard is creating a culture where violence and fear do not rule the day.
But who am I kidding?
Hold on a sec, dear. Just let me grab my jacket and holster my .45 - just in case something goes down at church.