Sunday, June 12, 2016

102 Reasons For Stronger Gun Control Laws

Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen
The horrifying manifestation of hate unleashed in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando early this morning is difficult to comprehend.

I'm sitting here listening to NPR's ongoing coverage of this tragic event, and as they're reporting, this is the 133rd mass shooting in the United States this year.

It was the worst mass shooting in American history.

With so much still unknown, this incident will be dominating the media for the next few days, but it is my hope that larger mainstream news organizations finally begin to look more closely at the how the vilification of the LGBT community by (some) Republican lawmakers played a part in creating the kind of climate that allowed, or even fueled the kind of hatred that was at the root of this attack.

In recent weeks Republican lawmakers in North Carolina, Mississippi and other states have actively pushed to pass legislation that denies transgender individuals from using the restroom of their choice under the false narrative that transgender folks might stalk bathrooms to commit sexual assault.

Which is utter nonsense that's totally unprovable by actual facts- instead it's an excuse to use state laws to discriminate.

Obviously the saddest aspect of 29-year-old Omar Mir Seddique Mateen killing 49 people and wounding 53 others are the lives he ended or altered forever, and the unimaginable pain his actions will cause to family, friends and members of the Orlando community.

But it's also sad to see divisive figures like Donald Trump wasting no time trying to use this tragedy to malign Muslims and fan the flames of fear and bigotry to rally support for his absurd calls to ban people of Islamic faith from entering the country.

Maybe the fact that Omar Mateen was an American citizen, as are most people who commit mass shootings in the United States, who lived in Central Florida and was born in New York eluded Trump?

Omar Mateen's ex-wife Sitora Yusufiy
NBC News reports that Mateen's father claims his son was angered when two men kissed each other in front of the killer's three year-old son in Miami.

He also had a propensity for violence, his ex-wife from New Jersey born in Uzbekistan, Sitora Yusufiy, told reporters that Mateen beat her regularly during their two-year marriage until her parents came down to Florida and got her out of the house.

She claims Omar Mateen wasn't particularly religious either.

Regardless of all that, Trump continues to beat the drums of anti-Muslim immigration and has already released statements via Twitter which equate to "I told you so." 

As if his repugnant comments about members of the Muslim community somehow predicted the actions of a lone individual who was motivated by toxic hatred of LGTB people and an alleged allegiance to ISIS.

Trump made scant mention of the ease with which Mateen was able to purchase the guns he used.

Mateen had been interviewed three times by the F.B.I previously for making statements expressing support for terrorism.

He also had ties to a Florida man named Moner Mohammad Abu Salha who became radicalized and eventually blew himself up in Syria in a suicide bombing.

Florida Gov & NRA Flunky Rick Scott
Despite all that, Mateen was able to walk right into a store and purchase a military-style AR-15 assault rifle, and a Glock handgun two days ago; the A.T.F won't say where he bought the weapons.

Earlier today I watched the televised briefing by Orlando's Mayor and Police Chief, the local sheriff, the Florida Attorney General, the local F.B.I agent in charge and Republican Governor Rick Scott spoke as well.

It was interesting to hear Rick Scott take the podium and lament the tragedy.

It's not my intent to politicize this tragedy, but it's important to put this event in the context of gun laws - even more so with a presidential election coming up this fall.

During Rick Scott's first term as Florida Governor which started in 2011, he passed 12 different pro-gun laws with the help of a Republican-dominated state legislature - including the "Docs v. Glocks" law that put limits on how doctors can talk about guns with their own patients.

He also backed the absurd "Stand Your Ground" law that enabled violent racist psychopath George Zimmerman to stalk, confront and shoot and kill innocent African-American teenager Trayvon Martin - and be absolved of any legal responsibility for it in a court of law.

Scott literally gets an "A" grade from the NRA (Hillary Clinton gets a "F") so it offers some perspective on where he stands on issues like mandatory background checks to purchase guns and the ability to purchase military-style assault rifles like the AR-15 Omar Mateen used to kill some of the 49 people he slaughtered (and the 53 he wounded) in Orlando earlier this morning as many of us slept.

Governor Scott didn't pull the trigger, but he and his Republican cohorts are part of the reasons Mateen was able to own firearms and have a permit to do so.

Under current Florida law, it's also legal for an employer to fire someone just for identifying as LGBT, because conservative legislators have managed to exclude LGBT individuals from the protections that employment laws extend to other Floridans.

Think about that.

With a detailed investigation into this mass shooting barely underway, someone like Donald Trump would have you believe that this incident was the result of immigration laws that allow people of Islamic faith to enter the country, or because of rampant "political correctness".

But this incident didn't occur in some kind of vacuum.

It happened in a state that has enacted laws that relegate members of the LGBT community to 2nd class status when it comes to protections in the workplace, a state that places the agenda of the National Rifle Association over the safety of it's own citizens.

If this incident demonstrates anything (beyond the depraved mind of a man consumed by hate), it's that there are 103 new reasons for American citizens to start demanding more stringent gun control laws.

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