In Pulse Aftermath, Don’t Rush to Blame

Humpulse-shootingans, by their nature, are compelled to answer, “Why?” In the wake of the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, this weekend, there is a huge temptation in our grief and our rush toward answers to point fingers.

We need to make sure we have as much credible information as possible before we start assigning blame. More importantly, we must recognize that how we respond will display our character as a nation and have ramifications far into the future.

Most of all, we  need to understand that, most likely we will never get a satisfactory answer to why this happened. The world doesn’t work the way we want or expect.

It is easy, as sort of ghoulish armchair quarterbacks, to wonder why nothing was done to prevent accused shooter Omar Mateen from taking this horrendous action.

Why hadn’t the FBI arrested or detained him after questioning him, twice, regarding possible links to terrorists? Mateen was an American citizen, born in New York, and the FBI can’t throw citizens in jail without sufficient evidence of a crime.

Wasn’t he a member of ISIS? Mateen claimed in a 911 call during the incident to be a follower of ISIS, but investigators could not find any solid link to that organization. Of course, ISIS has no problem taking advantage of a public relations opportunity and claiming responsibility. If it helps to fracture American unity, they’re all for it. There’s no evidence that ISIS directed Mateen’s actions.

Why don’t we ban all citizens from being able to own firearms of any sort? I am not a fan of guns, but I recognize the rights of responsible gun owners. Mateen had all the legal permits and had purchased those guns legally. He had worked in security for a decade. There is just no way to look into a crystal ball and see how a person will use a gun.

Should we throw all Muslims out of the country or into camps?  This smacks of the same shameful behavior during World War II when fear overcame reason and U.S. citizens of Japanese descent were herded into camps. They had to abandon their homes and sell at deep discount, or just leave behind, their possessions.

Is that the kind of country the Constitution wants us to be? Would you want that to happen to you? Neither Dylan Roof or Timothy McViegh were Muslim. Domestic terrorism is not the domain of a single belief system.

What should we do? We should concentrate on intolerance, why some feel the need to violently react against differences. Why are people so driven to make everyone else live the way they think is the only way, under their version of what is “right”? Isn’t that the real problem? Why would anyone value being “right” more than others’ lives?

We need, in the spirit of the common good and the willingness to compromise, to have civil discussions about the issues this tragedy raises.

Ours is a country founded on the ideals of tolerance and justice. We don’t always get them right, but that doesn’t mean we should abandon their pursuit as a quick fix to ease the pain of our grief.