New “Mass Shooting”
On 13 Nov 2015, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris, France left 130 dead and 368 injured. The attacks were a combination of suicide bombings and mass shootings. Seven of the attackers were killed and authorities in France are still unsure exactly how many accomplices were involved. The attacks, which ISIS claims responsibility for in retaliation for French air strikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, were the deadliest in France since the Second World War. French President Francois Holland declared the attacks to be an act of war by ISIS, and the French have stepped up activity against the group both at home and abroad. All the known attackers were European Union citizens, and all were Muslim.
On 2 Dec 2015, an attack was carried out at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, by two “gunmen”. The attack left 14 dead and 21 wounded. It is being touted in the press as “the deadliest mass shooting in the US since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.”
Like Sandy Hook Elementary, the Inland Regional Center, being a government facility, was also a “gun free zone.” Unlike Sandy Hook, they had been staging monthly “Active Shooter” exercises so that people would know what to do in the event of an attack. In fact, when the first gunshots rang out, some in the facility initially thought it was just another drill. When they rapidly discovered that it was horrifyingly real, they did the only thing an unarmed person can do in the face of a gun threat, and what they had practiced doing in their drills; they hid. They called out on their cell phones, and, no doubt, prayed.
What do we know about the attack? On the way into work the day after I heard on the news that the attack was carried out by “two gunmen.” I was also told that everyone is baffled as to a motive in the incident, but that “terrorism has been ruled out.” Just another instance of “workplace violence” I guess.
President Obama was quick to weigh in on the matter, saying:
“The one thing we do know is that we have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world. There are some steps that we could take – not to eliminate every one of these mass shootings – but to improve the odds that they don’t happen as frequently. Common sense gun safety laws, stronger background checks. For those who are concerned about terrorism, some may be aware of the fact that we have a no-fly list where people can’t get on planes, but those people we don’t allow to fly could go into a store right now in the United States and buy a firearm and there’s nothing that we can do to stop them. That’s a law that needs to be changed. My hope is we are able to contain this particular shooting, and we don’t yet know what the motives of the shooters are. What we do know is that there are steps we can take to make Americans safer, and that we should come together in a bi-partisan basis on every level of government to come together to make these rare as opposed to normal. We should never think this is something that just happens in the ordinary course of events, because it doesn’t happen with the same frequency in other countries.”
So, official bottom line here: 1) We don’t know why these people did what they did, but it was not a terrorist attack. 2) The root problem here is “easy” availability of guns in the US. Any yahoo from anywhere in the world can walk into a gun store and by a gun anywhere in the US, no questions asked. 3) We know what steps can be taken to fix the problem; i.e., stricter gun control laws. Because the problem isn’t the people doing the shooting, the problem is guns. 4) This is a uniquely American problem. Mass shootings don’t happen anywhere else in the world except in America. This is a problem that should no longer be accepted as “normal”.
The shooters wore “assault-style” clothing and had handguns and “assault rifles”. I am assuming that by “assault-style” clothing they mean cammies with cargo pockets. I expect that now such clothing, which is literally everywhere in America, should also be banned just in case it may be a “trigger point” causing distress in some people. After all, doesn’t camouflage clothing really “glorify” the “gun culture?” Isn’t it wearing it really an act of “micro aggression?” Banning it is, no doubt, one positive step that can be taken in the aftermath of this shooting.
On the other hand, I have to ask; can I even use the term “trigger point” without causing distress? After all, a trigger is a part of a weapon, and in today’s society, where even “making a gun” with your finger can get you expelled from school, shouldn’t that word be banished from our vocabulary just in case someone finds it offensive or distressful?
I watched some of the coverage as the drama unfolded. The news commentators, in search of a motive, were quick to check how far away the nearest Plannned Parenthood facility was from the shooting, apparently eager to link this latest massacre to a political agenda by angry white Christian men incited to violence by right-wing media in the wake of the Colorado Planned Parenthood attack the week before. Of course, that attack now appears to be a crazed white man living in a shack with no electricity, who self-identified on his voter registration as a woman.
The suspects in the shootings (who were subsequently gunned down by police in a hail of bullets while fleeing in a black SUV) were 28-year-old Syed Rizwan Farook and 27-year-old Tashfeen Malik. Oops! Narrative derails at this point.
Farook, whose parents emigrated from Pakistan, was born here, and because of birthright citizenship, is an American citizen. He was married to a non-citizen, Tashfeen Malik, a pharmacist from Pakistan. Farook’s brother-in-law has stated that the two had been married for two years. They had one child, 6-months old, now obviously an orphan.
Farook is described as a devout Muslim. It is said of Farook that he had memorized the entire Koran, a feat most Muslims never accomplish. His brother-in-law, who is married to Farook’s sister, expressed shock and disbelief at Farook’s involvement in the shooting stating that he had “absolutely no idea why he [Farook] would do this.” Farook’s father too expresses mystification over the whole affair, stating bemusedly, “He was very religious. He would go to work, come back, go to pray, come back. He’s Muslim.”
Farook had been attending an office party at the Inland Regional Center, where he worked as an environmental specialist for the department of public health. He had been employed by the county for five years. According to police, while at the party he “left under angry circumstances” and later returned with his wife, both heavily armed, and proceeded fire between 65-75 rounds.
So, what we clearly have here is a case of…workplace violence, triggered no doubt, by micro-aggression, and aggravated by the easy availability of guns in the US. Doubtlessly, Farook immediately left the party and went to his nearest full-service drive-through gun shop where he purchased AR-15s for himself and his wife (erroneously reported by CNN as AK-47s), as well as pistols, “assault-style” clothing, and pipe bombs.
This took place in California. Contrary to Mr. Obama’s statement that leads one to believe that a person can step off an airplane anywhere in the US and immediately arm up and there is nothing we can do to stop them, California is known to have some of the strictest gun laws in the country. According to Wikipedia,
“A Firearm Safety Certificate, obtained by passing a written test, is required for gun purchases. Handguns sold by dealers must be ‘California legal’ by being listed on the state’s Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale. Private sales of firearms must be done through a licensed dealer. All firearm sales are recorded by the state, and have a ten-day waiting period. There is no provision in the state constitution (unlike other states) that explicitly guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms.”That Farood was in violation of numerous existing gun laws in California, not to mention statutes pertaining to murder, manslaughter, and discharging a firearm within the city limits, is of course a given. Obviously, the existence of these laws, again, some of the strictest in the country, did nothing to deter or prevent Farood and his wife from carrying out their mission of death.
Additionally, semi-automatic firearms that the state has classified as assault weapons (undoubtedly including AR-15 semi-automatic rifles), .50 caliber rifles, and magazines that can hold more than ten rounds of ammunition may not be sold in California. Possession of automatic weapons, and short-barreled rifles and shotguns is generally prohibited. California has extremely restrictive concealed carry laws. Specifics vary statewide by jurisdiction, with many areas being essentially no issue, meaning you can’t get a CCW permit at all. Open carry of loaded or unloaded firearms in public is generally prohibited, including long guns and shotguns; may be permitted in unincorporated rural areas under certain circumstances.
Even transporting a firearm in your car is an ordeal in California. Handguns must be unloaded and in a locked, fully enclosed container. Your trunk qualifies; your glove box or other “utility box” does not and is explicitly forbidden. If you are within 1000 feet of the edge of a school grounds (K-12), the handgun must be locked in a fully enclosed container. If transporting a long gun that California deems an “assault weapon,” that too must always be transported in a locked container, and can only be transported under certain circumstances. Of course, it goes without saying that all long guns not deemed “assault weapons” must be unloaded when transported as well.
As is equally obvious, this was no “spur of the moment” decision. While this particular attack itself may not have been pre-planned, something certainly was. He (or they) didn’t just dash into the nearest convenient 24-hr gun store and equip. It is plain that they were fully equipped beforehand. It is also obvious that they had planned or rehearsed such a scenario beforehand, as they acted with military precision. The attack included three pipe bombs, configured as a single large explosive device and a remote-control. A search of their residence in the aftermath revealed an additional 2,500 rounds of .223 caliber and 2,000 rounds of 9 mm ammunition, bomb making materials, and 12 pipe bombs.
Investigators have discovered that the couple began erasing their digital footprints the day before the attack, indicating that something was afoot. The erasure included such things as “deleting email accounts, disposing of hard drives and smashing their cellphones.” Indeed, evidence has now been uncovered that Malik pledged allegiance to an Islamic State leader in a Facebook posting prior to carrying out the attack. According to the LA Times, “the post was made under a different name and has since been removed, apparently by Malik herself, but FBI technicians were able to recover the post.”
As a result, even though the “official” position is that this was “just another mass shooting incident,” the investigation is now being treated as a counterterrorism case.
The evidence so far points to a premeditated act – not simply an act of rage, with the distinct possibility that the couple were indeed, radicalized Muslims intent on an act of Jihad.
Farood even arranged for his mother to come over and babysit their infant daughter, stating that he and his wife had a medical appointment to go to, before heading out to their rendezvous with death.
As far as this being “a pattern…of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world,” as Mr. Obama stated, it is only appears so because elsewhere in the world when such events take place, they are referred to as “terrorist attacks;” only here in the United States are they referred to as “mass shootings” and “work place violence.”
Elsewhere else in the world, everyone knows what to call them. France had no difficulty figuring out terrorism was the motive in the recent Paris attack. Spain had no difficulty figuring out terrorism was the motive in the attack on their train system in 2004. Only here in the United States, where we know that ISIS is the JV team, that it is contained over in Iraq and Syria, that al Quaida has been destroyed, and that the Republicans are the biggest enemy the Democratic Party has and Global Warming the biggest threat to the Republic, do we have difficulty forming the words “terrorist attack,” at least if it is perpetrated by someone who turns out to be a Muslim.
And yes, Mr. President, such attacks do have a parallel in other places in the world; places where they happen with more horrifying frequency than they do here in the US, at least so far. Places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Like Libya and Syria, and Yemen and other places around the world where Islam is at war with her neighbors, the West, or herself. Places like Israel. Places where terrorist attacks are called terrorist attacks instead of “mass shootings” and where the first knee-jerk reaction is to fight the terrorists not disarm the citizenry.
In recent memory, the only time I have heard the phrase “terrorist attack” used in conjunction with a shooting, was last week in the attack at the Planned Parenthood facility. This was done as soon as it became apparent that 1) the attacker was a white male, 2) he may have had a “political” motive, and 3) he was not a Muslim. Thus, Timothy McVeigh and the Planned Parenthood shooter in Colorado are terrorists; Nidal Malik Hasan and the two who just shot up San Bernardino, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik are “gunmen.”
We may have problems here in the US identifying this incident as a terrorist attack, but our opponents overseas have no such difficulty at all. ISIS itself may not have claimed credit, which is good for President Obama, as if they had it would have called into question his recent statement that ISIS is “contained.” The obvious question to have asked in that circumstance would have been “contained where?” On Earth? What a relief! At least ISIS hasn’t escaped the planet!
Nevertheless, ISIS extremists began celebrating the shooting on Twitter and other social media soon after the news became public. “Three lions made us proud. They are still alive,” one tweeted in Arabic, “California streets are full with soldiers with heavy weapons. The United States is burning #America_Burning#Takbir”. Another Tweeted “God is the greatest. May god spread fear in the homes of the Crusaders.”
Until we can correctly identify the enemy, we will have great difficulty winning this battle. Of course then again, perhaps the enemy has been identified. Perhaps the real target here isn’t ISIS or Islamic extremists. Perhaps the real target is the American people; those of us who own firearms, anyway.
As usual, the Daily Mail has the best pictures of the incident thus far.