Reprinted from The Guardian
In the wake of the deplorable mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub on Saturday -- and the deranged shooter's tenuous connection to Isis -- "national security" is about to take on a renewed focus in the presidential race. But the existential threat to Americans is not some fanatical and nihilistic death cult halfway around the world: it's the fact that unstable individuals of all stripes continue to have easy access to assault weapons right here in the US.
While no one is doubting the Orlando mass murderer called 911 and pledged allegiance to Isis before continuing his senseless killing spree, the facts are much more complicated than that. Even US officials admitted: "there was no indication that [Isis] had trained or instructed him, or had any direct connection with him." As one senior US official put it to the Wall Street Journal on Sunday: "He seems to be looking for any opportunity to associate with the terrorist group du jour." Isis quickly took advantage of the tragedy to take credit, but "they may just be piling on," a senior US official said.
Much more evidence points to the idea that he was unstable before Isis came into existence. He was reportedly a domestic abuser, according to his ex-wife, who said she thought he was mentally ill and not devoutly religious. His co-worker quit his job more than a year ago because "everything he said was toxic. This guy was unhinged and unstable," the co-worker said, "he talked of killing people." His father said that the crime did not have anything to do with his religion and was because he was offended seeing two men kissing weeks earlier.
When the killer in these types of mass shootings is white, as the vast majority of them are, Republicans are happy to discount their extreme conservative political views as the ravings of a madman. Yet when a probably unstable American shouts "Isis," that discussion halts and it's immediately considered an act of war.