Within a few hours of the massacre in Orlando, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., had it figured out. Such shootings, Murphy said Sunday morning, are part of an “epidemic” that “will continue without end if Congress continues to sit on its hands and do nothing, again.”
He continued: “This phenomenon of near constant mass shootings happens only in America — nowhere else. Congress has become complicit in these murders by its total, unconscionable deafening silence.”
In other words, U.S. gun laws are the problem. Radical Islamic terrorism? Not so much. In an editorial Monday, The Wall Street Journal asked whether, after Sunday’s ghastly events, the country “can finally drop the illusion that the jihadist fires that burn in the Middle East don’t pose an urgent and deadly threat to the American homeland?” For those of Murphy’s ilk, the answer is a resounding no.
They seemingly would prefer to disregard the ever-growing body of proof that Islamic radicalism poses a clear and present danger in the United States. A line runs from the Boston Marathon to a recruiting station in
Tennessee to an Army post in Texas to a community center in San Bernadino, Calif., and now to a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., where at least 49 were killed.
The nightclub catered to the LGBT community. Islamic State regularly executes homosexuals in the land it occupies in Syria and Iraq. Although the depths of the Orlando gunman’s ties to ISIS are unclear and may not be known for some time, he did pledge his allegiance to the group in a 911 call before the attack, and was heard shouting “allahu Akbar” (God is great) inside the club. Coincidence?
One thing that’s frustrating about the often-
robotic responses by gun control advocates in Congress is that they’re also quick to push back against efforts that might help law enforcement suss out potential radicals. We’re all for the protection of civil liberties, but we’re also for helping the good guys reduce the likelihood that any other such attacks will occur. That means being able to track phone calls and carry out sting operations generated online.
In his remarks Sunday afternoon, President Barack Obama called the attack “an act of terror and act of hate.” That reference was welcome, as all too often Obama has steered away from citing terrorism. However, the president made no mention of Islamic State, and couldn’t resist an allusion to gun control. This shooting, he said, is “a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be.”
The problem with Obama’s example was that first three shootings he referenced (Sandy Hook, Charleston, Aurora) weren’t fostered by religious radicalism. The Orlando shooting, from all indications, clearly was — FBI Director James Comey said Monday the gunman had “strong indications of radicalization.”
We need to be a country that’s willing to acknowledge we’re at war with an ideologically driven enemy who shows no sign of relenting. Regardless of the depth of the Orlando gunman’s ties to the group, Islamic State will only be emboldened by the attack. The United States must be as well, and focus on destroying ISIS instead of defaulting to complaints about gun laws.
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