New York, Sutherland and the Illogic of Gun Control

Between the vehicular attack in New York on Halloween and the terrible mass shooting in Sutherland, Texas yesterday, it’s been a tough week with violence in the United States of America.  Compounding the tragedy is the by now familiar compulsion of bad actors across social media to use these events to push some kind of political agenda.  This isn’t a phenomenon unique to liberals or conservatives—but as the left is typically on the offensive in the culture wars, and as the news media and the popular culture are themselves creatures of the left, it’s usually their hot takes that get the most attention.

In the case of mass shootings, it’s always a call for more “common sense” gun control—as if firearms weren’t already heavily regulated, and buying one is as easy as ordering a pizza.  They seem to think that if it’s next to impossible to obtain a gun legally, this will somehow deter people who are determined to commit murder—itself an illegal act.  It never seems to dawn on them that people with criminal intent won’t let gun laws stand in their way, and that burdensome restrictions will only keep the law abiding from exercising their rights under the Constitution.

So it’s very telling when liberals don’t apply the same logic they use for gun control to the problem of Islamic terrorism.  In their view, when a radical Islamist rents a truck and kills eight people by mowing them down on a bike path, that is not representative of all Islam—and they are correct, no question.  In the next breath, however, the same liberals will turn around and shout that when a crazy man with a rifle guns down dozens of people in a church, it is absolutely the NRA’s fault.

How are you supposed to square that?

I’m baffled, but apparently leftists have no trouble holding these two oposing views at exactly the same time.

For instance, there are around one billion Muslims worldwide, many of whom live in countries that are hostile to the American way of life.  Only a relatively tiny number of Muslims, though, actively seek our destruction through terrorism and other forms of violence.  This is why liberals have resisted President Trump’s restrictions on travel from these countries, and maintained that the United States should, as a matter of compassion, admit large numbers of Syrian refugees.  The likelihood that terrorists would be hiding among them, they say, is small enough that it justifies the risk of allowing them in.

Now consider that in America, we have a population of around 330 million, and altogether there are around 300 million firearms in circulation.  Even so, among all those people and all those guns, only an infinitesimal number will use them to commit murder.  Even fewer will use them in a mass shooting.  And yet somehow, in the liberal mind, this justifies taking guns away from those who have never committed a crime—because even though the overall risk is so small, we simply can’t take the chance that even one bad apple might use a gun in an act of mass violence.

Again, anybody else see the contradiction here?

If the left applied the same logic they use on guns to Islamist terrorism, they’d not only be talking about an immigration ban, they’d be advocating the ban of Islam altogether.  Sure, they would be punishing all Muslims for acts of terrorism they didn’t do—but if the impulse after a mass shooting is to take guns away from the people who didn’t do it, then what’s the difference?

Liberals, however, would never propose such a thing—nor should they.  For one, it would be immoral.  It would also violate one of the basic precepts of the First Amendment, the right to worship as one chooses. We can’t violate such a fundamental right, even if it would make solving the terrorism problem easier—even if it would save lives.

But guess what?  There’s also a Second Amendment, which guarantees another fundamental right—for the individual to bear arms.  The founders believed that right to be critical for a free people, every bit as important as freedom of speech and religion, because all serve as a bulwark against encroaching tyranny.  Ignoring that fact because it makes it easier for the left to advance their agenda doesn’t change a thing.

The Media’s Fake News About the Manhattan Terrorist Attack

Yesterday, a 29-man named Sayfullo Saipov plowed through a bicycle path in Lower Manhattan with a white truck, resulting in the death of 8 and the injuring of 11 more.

Along with the lives lost, an additional casualty of the attack is liberals’ ability to recognize reality: among them, that the culprit of this act of terrorism adhered to what he at least understood to be Islam and carried out the attack for the advancement of the self-described “Islamic State.”

As reported by the Daily Wire, a CNN host began by choosing to withhold from his report the description of the attacker the network had obtained by the police. Then, as Newsbusters reported, an MSNBC terror analyst denied any role Islam might have played in the attack, because — and get this — “we have seen Catholics in Canada who converted to, quote unquote, Islam.” He went on to suggest that the attacker may have been Catholic two weeks before. Of course, he did not even consider the implications of a correlation between religious conversion and radicalized actions. Certainly a nascent convert is in a poor position to understand the true embodiment of his new faith, but whether the conversion is a justification for an act he wished to undertake or the misappropriated object of the act itself, it is an indispensable psychological component to his actions.

It is routine in the wake of ISIS-related attacks to discount the importance of the role played by Islam, just as it is routine in the wake of attacks by white males to point out the number of terrorists who have been white or Christian, or even to question why some attacks carried out by white males are not labeled terrorism. The Las Vegas shooting is only the most recent example of this. A Newsweek article on the subject is typical, and only one of many. It points out the differences between Nevada law and federal law on the subject, as well as what President Obama defined as terrorism in addressing the Boston Marathon bombing.

But presidential remarks do not such a vital definition make, and a law contains merely a legal definition of what can be designated terrorism for the purpose of charging a perpetrator with that specific crime. What we are concerned with here is not terrorism as a crime, but terrorism as a tactic. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what Obama said or even what Nevada law says; for observers nationwide, terrorism is not understood to be something so broad as an act intended to harm innocent civilians or “intended to cause great bodily harm or death to the general population.” Federal law comes closest to the standard academic definition: “unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” Motiveless attacks are, by any meaningful definition, not terror.

Despite the obviousness of this distinction, the media seem intent of muddying the waters when the facts regarding the motives themselves are not in dispute. The first fact — that the attack was carried out by vehicle, like an increasing number of ISIS-related terrorist attacks in Europe have been — should at least have tipped everyone off to the possibility. But again, terrorism is a tactic, and a vehicular attack could be employed in service of any cause. The second fact, which CNN ultimately reported — that the attacker yelled “allahu akbar” — should have sealed the deal.

Additional facts, such as the description of Saipov the CNN host initially withheld — which would have included a photo and the fact that he was from Uzbekistan, a country which is over 96 percent Muslim — would merely strengthen the already obvious conclusion about his motive. Ultimately, a note was found inside the attacker’s vehicle “claiming the attack was made in the name of ISIS.” Case closed.

But the first aim of the liberals in the mainstream media is not to report facts, but to advance (or undermine) certain narratives. No wonder we’re so suspicious of fake news these days.

Of course the vast majority of Muslims are neither terrorists nor approve of terror. Of course the bulk of terrorist attacks are wholly unrelated to Islam. Of course President Bush was right when he said we are not at war with Islam. The left appears not to trust those facts when it withholds the facts about specific attacks. In order to combat what it considers to be fake news about Islam and terrorism, it creates fake news about specific terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims. Ostensibly, the media don’t trust ignorant Americans to come to the right conclusions, but they undermine their own authority to place terrorists in their proper context whenever they lie by omission.

Even if we decide that true Islam has absolutely nothing to do with creating terrorists such as Saipov, it is imperative to understand what terrorists believe that drives them to use such tactics. It is vital to get inside their heads, in order to understand how to prevent such attacks in the future. We cannot combat what we willingly choose not to see.

BREAKING: Truck on bike path kills 6 in Manhattan

A truck rented from Home Depot was deliberately driven in a bicycle lane in lower Manhattan today, killing six cyclists and injuring at least fifteen others.

Police have captured the driver of the truck. Reports suggest that an second occupant of the truck escaped with a gun, and other witnesses reported hearing gunshots.

The incident is being investigated as a terrorist attack.

[UPDATE #1 — Police identify suspect.] Sayfullo Saipov from Tampa, Florida, has been identified as the driver of the van. Reports indicate Saipov shouted “Allahu Akbar!” and exited the vehicle while brandishing fake guns. Eight people have now been reported dead.

[UPDATE #2] Saipov, who immigrated to the United States from Uzbekistan in 2010, left a note in the rental truck he used that gave ISIS credit for the attack.