TAR HEEL VIEW: Wait before jumping to conclusions


As the sun rose Sunday morning, most of us learned the news about the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

The death toll was staggering — 49 dead and another 53 wounded. It was the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. and the nation’s worst terrorist attack since 9/11.

After the shock started to wear off, the blame game started and it ran the gamut. Those on the left were quick to point to homophobia and a bigger need for gun control. The right, on the other hand, was calling for tougher action against terrorists, especially those espousing the radical faction of the Islamic faith, and a push to strengthen Second Amendment rights.

About the only item both sides of the aisle were ready to agree on was that the actions of Omar Mateen was the very definition of terrorism — the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

In the beginning it seemed both sides were equally right and wrong.

Mateen’s father said his son may have been motivated to enter the club and kill those inside because he was set off after witnessing two men kiss and show affection in front of his family. Members of the LGBT community were quick to pick up this tidbit of information and used it to talk about their lack of rights as well as being the target of hate crimes more than any other groups in the nation.

At the same time, the members of the right were running with the fact that while on the phone with a 911 operator, Mateen claimed his allegiance to ISIS. He also expressed solidarity with the Syrian rebel group Nusra Front and previously had talked about being connected with Hezbollah. Perhaps it wasn’t just homophobia that played into Mateen’s actions; he may have been receiving orders from members of ISIS.

As authorities started its lengthy process to unravel the mystery that is Omar Mateen, some interesting tidbits have emerged Mateen recently had legally purchased both of the weapons he used in the shooting. He passed all the background checks even though he had been the subject of two FBI investigations into his possible ties to terrorist groups.

That is the problem that needs to be addressed from both sides — how does a possible home-grown terrorist not get flagged for the purchase of two guns? While the members of the left, including presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, want to limit the ability for citizens to purchase guns or weapons like the AR-15, they fail to understand that criminals or terrorists will always find a way to get the weapons they need. Plus, members of the right, like presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, and the NRA, need to meet with gun-control groups and find ways to ensure more mass killings aren’t in this nation’s future.

The second major news that has thrown the first-day theories out the window is that Mateen may himself be gay. Reports started to surface that Mateen was a regular at Pulse and may have used gay dating apps on his phone. These haven’t been confirmed yet, but it would take away some of the homophobia rhetoric surrounding the killings.

We may never know the real reason for the 29-year-old’s motivation that night. Authorities can do their best and try to put as many pieces to the puzzle together as they can, but the final piece may remain a mystery.

Hopefully these senseless killings will allow Clinton, Trump and members of Congress to kick partisan politics to the curb and focus on the task at hand — avoiding future Orlandos and San Bernadinos from occurring again.

The Sanford Herald

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