Terrorism, Gun Laws, and Las Vegas
Last year it was Orlando, this year, it’s Las Vegas. The pain and anguish from these incidents don’t seem to subside. Although, countering every act of violence and terrorism is a tough ask, but you’ve got to understand that warfare policies are all about adapting. Constantly trying being one step ahead of the terrorists, and choking them off completely is what's required.
The massacre in Las Vegas manifestly proves this point. The threat from ISIS and Al-Qaeda is real, but that’s not the only threat America needs to be wary of. In a briefing to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, FBI Director Chris Wray stated last week that the threat from white supremacists is the same as that posed by the ISIS. The point, of course, is not to deem the Las Vegas shooter as a white supremacist, but it’s about the scourge that has swept across the U.S. Coming from the FBI Director, debunking the threat just wouldn’t help.
But, there’s a reason why many of the far-right were quick to denounce Stephen Paddock as a ‘Trump-hater.’ Although, ISIS has claimed responsibility, but FBI has categorically denied the 64-year-old as having any links to the terrorist outfit. The question remains: would the dynamics change if it were to be an ISIS-inspired attack? Loss of human life is a loss to the country. There’s got to be no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in terms of who carries out the carnage, and in what manner.
Proponents of the Second Amendment will continue to come up with their own excuses. Whether it’s a Muslim, a white nationalist, or the gangs in Chicago, you just can’t afford to distinguish between hate crime and terrorism anymore.
After America lost at least 60 precious lives, the response from President Trump was rather calm, composed, and diplomatic. He said, “Our unity cannot be shattered by evil, our bonds cannot be broken by violence and although we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today and always will forever.” Who, one may ask, showed up at the UN and threatened to destroy
Iran and North Korea?
If that fiery rhetoric was justified, then being diplomatic while addressing and condemning gun-related violence in the U.S. makes little sense. Is it even noteworthy that more than 30,000 people die in the U.S. annually from gun-related violence? The casualties are more than those caused by HIV, Parkinson’s disease, hypertension, anemia and viral hepatitis. Do the Americans actually care if Stephen Paddock kept an eerily strange number (42 firearms) of weapons with him?
There are two ways to go about it.
Either, wait for another Orlando, another Sandy Hook, or another Las Vegas. Or, make sure not to blur the boundary lines further. Don’t differentiate between an act of terrorism, and a hate crime. Don’t justify hate. Accept that there are elements, across either side of the political divide, that savor hate-mongering. These groups do nothing but to facilitate the international terrorist organizations by creating a vacuum. And, in addition to the sultry presence of hate groups, why on earth you’d then want those people to possess weapons?
After all, an automatic firing machine, similar to the one Paddock used, sells for $99.99 in America. Remember, you’ve got to make it tougher, not easier, for someone to even contemplate going on a killing spree.
I’d reiterate that being unsure and failing to distinguish between hate crimes and terrorism will continue to haunt the U.S and other countries that do this. If you pick and choose in terms of what constitutes terrorism, you’re setting yourself up for nothing but disaster.
Las Vegas wasn’t an 'act of evil'. It was an act of terrorism.
Shazar Shafqat is a counterterrorism and security analyst. His research focuses on Middle East politics and security issues, counterterrorism strategies, and military-related affairs. His commentary on the AF-PAK and Middle East security issues regularly features across renowned media outlets including The Hill, Middle East Eye, Middle East Monitor, The Diplomat, Asia Times, World Policy Journal, Dawn, The News International, The Nation, Daily Times, World Times Magazine, and others. He also appears, infrequently though, at various electronic media platforms to discuss conventional and psychological warfare dynamics and trends across the world. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org