Why can’t it be about each of those things?

Inevitably, too many have forgotten to mourn with those who mourn. Instead they have moved directly into the politicization.

So, first, mourn.




Keep mourning.








Feel something other than anger.




Keep feeling.




And once we have properly humbled ourselves and practiced grace and love and empathy and compassion… and recognize we can never do it with the sufficiency required… then we can consider our response.

So far, the reactions have been as varied as they are fervent.

Some think the Orlando shooting is about American gun culture—the ease with which a person can buy an AR-15. Others say this is about radical Islam. Some say this is about the Second Amendment. Other say it’s about homophobia.

Some call the shooter a lone wolf. Some a jihadist.

Some say what he did is a hate crime. Some say it’s an act of terror.

I want to know: Why can’t it be all of those things?

The line between terrorism and hate crimes is incredibly thin, and sometimes doesn’t exist at all. When a guy shoots up a Sikh temple or a US military installation or an Amish church, might there be a personal vitriolic vendetta (as in a hate crime) and a political, fear-inspiring agenda (as in terror)? I don’t understand why these are so often portrayed as mutually exclusive.

In the same way, it seems obvious that the gunman was out to harm LGBT individuals (interesting in light of the suggestion by some news outlets that he himself was gay). That doesn’t negate the allegation that he also pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

It’s not one or the other. This is not political fodder for the gay community or the gun reform crowd, nor for NRA proponents or those opposed to the immigration of Muslims. It’s bigger than each of those things. It encompasses them all.

Obviously, gay Americans are going to be angry in a different way than Islamophobic Americans, but they will both be angry. And they have real reasons to be. We all do. As the President said, this is an attack on all Americans, on a way of life that is bigger than sexuality or creed. We should only hope the collective anger is not inappropriately lobby-ized or used to tear down others.

To be sure, lobbying—getting political—is an appropriate response here. We do need gun reform. We do need more innovative and effective answers for radicalization. Above all, we need more love. Such endeavors are not at odds.

It would serve us well, in the days ahead, to acknowledge the issues, not only our issue.

Access to guns is the issue. Homophobia is the issue. Radicalism is the issue.

True, they may be the issue in different ways.

Access to guns is the means. Homophobia is the message. Radicalism is the motive.

But all three need to be addressed.

And we must keep solidarity.

I’m worried that we, as a country, are forgetting how to answer when asked, “Who is your neighbor?” I remember past mass shootings and terror attacks in America when, after they happened, the country united. Today, we are letting it tear us apart.

We need to love. We need to live. We need to stay together. Not because of some demonized or politicized common enemy, but because of a very real common good.

Posted by Griffin Paul Jackson


  1. Griffin,

    I deeply respect both you and most of your thoughts. But you’re off on one aspect of this one.

    The issue is about radicalism, and prejudice. But those are not the primary issues. Depravity is.

    But it is not about guns. Guns are merely a means. I wonder if the death toll would have been higher if he had used Molotov cocktails? Would we then be discussing banning glass bottles and gasoline, or would we focus on placing blame on the person who committed the act, and the forces that encouraged him to do so? Access to guns is not the means. A gun was the means, but access was not. Was access to swords or swords themselves the issue when Crusaders went to the ME? Why is it that we vilify one particular means?

    To be fair, you didn’t espouse an AW ban above, so I’m not sure exactly what kind of legislation you would like to see to make access to guns harder or what gun control reform you would like. I like the word reform, because, to paraphrase Chesterton, it means we are reforming towards an ideal; a much better word than nebulous “progress.” But the issue is not access to guns. The issue is the depravity of man, first and foremost. Humanity that is not corrupted does not fall prey to prejudice or radicalism. Unfortunately I’ve only ever met One.

    If you really think that building a wall will keep illegal immigrants out, then go ahead and enact the same thing with respect to guns: make guns harder to come by or create an “assault weapons” ban or call for confiscation of all firearms. But laws don’t keep weapons out of the hands of those intent on doing harm, only out of the hands of the law abiding, just as a wall won’t keep illegal immigrants out (nor am I here espousing a wall be built-both are equally ludicrous responses to the perceived problems). Gun control did not keep France or Belgium from having a terrorist attack. Lo and behold, dedicated terrorists were able to get their hands on weapons and kill lots of people.

    You can completely disarm the US civilian population. But that will only make it easier for the US government, whoever may be in power, to commit atrocities on a far larger scale than lone wolves can generally hope to accomplish (aside from NBC). The US did it to native Americans, my partial forebears, and African-Americans; the Brits did it to the Scottish. Given time and opportunity, every government almost assuredly will do it again. This applies to Hillary, Trump and any fascist we elect in the future. The US is not morally superior to other peoples, and deluding ourselves into thinking we are and would never do these things as a country is exactly that, delusion. That risk analysis leads me to the conclusion that the threat from an overwhelmingly powerful government is far more than the lone wolves combined. So I’ll fight for the right to keep and bear arms.

    Frankly, I find it exceptionally annoying when a terrorist attack is used to further a gun control agenda; San Bernadino went the same route. Gun control has always been about control, of the people. It has nothing to do with effectively fighting terrorism.

    I think the Pink Pistols have it right: arm the LGBTQ community for self-defense. Bill Clinton can say that he thinks that if there had been more armed people in the club the death toll would have been higher; but does anyone actually buy that? Even if 5 people returned fire and accidentally hit five innocent bystanders a piece, that’s only 25, and almost assuredly they wouldn’t all die, because the threat would most likely be eliminated and triage could start, allowing wounded people to get triage and not bleed out… that would lower the death count. The SWAT sitting on their butts for 3 hours while people bled out is an issue, a strategy/tactical issue.

    And for the record, while guns have become more and more prevalent in the US, firearm related homicide has gone down, continuing a 20 year downward trend. Obviously more guns does not equal more crime, despite Harvard researchers’ best attempts to skew the facts. And roughly 2/3 of those ~33k homicides in 2014 were suicides. We might have a suicide problem, we definitely have a gang problem in certain areas. ~11k firearms related homicides in the US in 2014 that weren’t suicides, including justified homicide, by both civilians and police, in a population of ~320 million.

    So don’t blame the millions of law abiding gun owners in the US and their desire to protect themselves, and thereby protect their means to protect themselves, for the act of a terrorist. It’s not law abiding citizens fault when a psychopath or radical acts.

    And frankly, while sinful men roam the earth, we will never be able to stop all of these types of attacks. It’s simply impossible. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, but they will still happen from time to time. When we react in fear and start disarming our own populace, terrorists really have terrorized. I wonder if they find it funny that we would like to make our people less capable of self defense? Because when seconds count, the police are minutes away, (or 3 hrs in the SWAT teams case).


    1. Griffin Paul Jackson June 22, 2016 at 3:06 am

      Thanks for this enlightening response. There’s a lot here. I won’t respond to every point, but I think it’s all worth thinking about.

      I agree with your first, overarching point. Depravity is the problem. No disagreement here. The only solution there is salvation, so in the meantime we have to address the ways depravity manifests itself.

      If I’m understanding you correctly, you’re position is basically that guns don’t kill people — people kill people. Is that fair? And while there’s definitely some truth in that, it’s just not a sufficient logic because it could be applied endlessly. Why not permit people then to have rocket launchers and tanks and chemical weapons? None of those kill people of their own will — it’s just that people use them to kill people. But of course I don’t think citizens should be permitted to own those things. Do you think they should be permissible?

      As for your Molotov cocktail example, bottles and gasoline weren’t designed to kill other humans. Guns and bullets were. Apart from recreational use, there is no reason to own a semi-automatic rifle except to kill people.

      Your strongest point, to me, is that laws don’t prevent bad people from doing bad things. Criminals will be criminals. I agree with that, but I don’t think that means we shouldn’t enact good laws simply because they are hard to enforce. The principle is important — and, frankly, I do think some level of gun reform would have a positive affect on shootings.

      One other question: I’m trying to understand the reasons so many Americans believe they have the need for semi-automatic or automatic weapons. Here are the reasons as I understand them:

      1) Hunting/sporting
      2) Self-defense
      3) As a deterrent against the government gaining too much power

      Is this accurate? Are there other reasons?

      I ask because I think the first reason is simply not a strong enough reason to maintain the gun culture in America considering what many of us view as its cost in human lives. The second reason seems to me the most legitimate, though it doesn’t align with my personal beliefs regarding guns (and I don’t know how practical/effective it is in reality). The third reason, to me, is largely invalidated by the huge number of countries that haven’t devolved into dictatorships, despite a lack of civilians with arms.



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