Yesterday, a friend of mine asked where all the anger was in the wake of the terrorist attack in Orlando. He had seen outrage and disbelief, sorrow and shock, but very little real anger. Part of it, at least in my case, was simply the need to process what had happened. But, with each hour that passed, with more information being released, I became more and more angry. Not just with the shooter but with others who stepped up to use the tragedy to press their pet agendas.
That anger hasn’t lessened any this morning. How can it when we have the President refusing to acknowledge that the shooter professed allegiance to ISIS? How can it when Clinton — and Obama before her — says that this is just another reason why we need more gun control? How can it when ACLU attorneys blame Conservative Christians for what happened?
Let’s face it, folks, no one forced Omar Mateen to buy the guns he took into the club with him in the early hours of yesterday morning. No one forced him to target that particular club. No one forced him to do anything — he chose his path, guided by who knows what? Are there indicators that he became a follower of radical Islam? Yes. But there is still a great deal we don’t know.
There is something else we have to face — tightening up gun control rules won’t stop crimes such as this. Whether we want to admit it or not, whenever there is a demand for a commodity, a black market will pop up if there are not legal ways to get it. Make those legal ways too difficult to navigate and, guess what, a black market will pop up. All you have to do is look at life behind the Iron Curtain for proof.
I’ve mentioned here before that I spent several months behind the Iron Curtain when I was younger. I visited what was then Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and the then Soviet Union. We knew there was a black market in the first three nations but it wasn’t as pervasive as what we found in the Soviet Union. Part of it was a desperation by the people to get items we don’t blink an eye about getting and part was to raise money. The Soviet economy was a joke, failing on all levels except padding the pockets of those in power.
It wasn’t even a hidden black market. Maids working in hotels would listen to conversations — and check luggage — to see if someone might be willing to “trade”. They wanted things like birth control pills, clothes, even my Mickey Mouse watch. Hell, one wanted to buy my St. Christopher medal. Not that I was willing to sell it, not with a transatlantic flight ahead of me.
We learned quickly what to look for. Just as it became a game to see how quickly we could spot which of our tour guides was reporting on our comings and goings, we learned to find the ones who were willing to trade with us for things we thought common place. We talked to people who had survived Stalin and World War II and who talked about how often the black market was the only way they had survived.
It didn’t matter if the item was in short supply or if it was outlawed, there was a market for it. All you had to do was know who to ask. Or know someone who knew to ask. Risky? Of course. But in a country where oppression was the rule, people would take risks. They had to. As beaten down as they were, there were still those who refused to bow down.
But let’s look closer to home. How have prohibitions worked here?
Think about that for a moment. The last time we tried a real prohibition of anything — liquor — it failed miserably. At least it did from a governmental point of view — at least from a non-corrupt governmental point of view. What we got were a number of police and politicians who looked the other way in return for money finding its way into their pockets. Organized crime came into its own during that period, running liquor and more.
Prohibition lasted 13 years, if I remember correctly and never really succeeded. Liquor was smuggled in from Canada. Speakeasies took off. Bathtub brew found its way into the homes of otherwise law-abiding citizens. The demand was there and people found a way.
But that’s not the only attempt our government has made to control the supply or distribution of something. Our so-called war on drugs is another example. We’ve seen how that has fared. It has failed. Our jails and prisons are filled with people who are users and low level pushers while the masterminds are, on the whole, untouchable.
Now we get the renewed call for more gun control laws. Do those politicians and others crying out to ban assault weapons — which is a misnomer when it comes to the weapons used by the bastard in Orlando — think that will get all the ARs and other similar weapons off the streets? Do they think it will keep black market trading of those weapons? If they do, they are either badly misinformed or they refuse to look around and see what is happening now.
Oh, but, Amanda, we need to close all the gun show loopholes.
Bullshit. Before we start worrying about that, ask yourself if we shouldn’t instead worry about how the FBI, the agency that investigated the bastard shooter multiple times, interviewing him 3 before determining there wasn’t enough evidence to think him a real threat, didn’t connect the dots when he bought the AR and Glock last week. The FBI is the agency running the background checks. The shooter was, allegedly, on the terrorist watch list. And yet intra-agency communication apparently didn’t trigger anyone to ask why this person they had been looking at might want these two weapons.
More gun control legislation isn’t what will stop tragedies like this. If the shooter truly was a radical, he would have found a way to kill as many people as he could, whether he could legally buy a gun or not. He would have gone to the black market. He would have used a bomb of some sort and that could have resulted in a great many more deaths and injuries that his guns did.
So, am I mad? Hell yes. I’m mad at those still pounding away on what happened to push their political agenda instead of paying attention to what the facts say and putting the blame where it really belongs — with the shooter and, if the allegations that he was a follower of radical Islam, with the tenets of that form of Islam. (and no, I don’t blame every follower of Islam for what happened any more than I blame every Christian for what happened in Waco so long ago.) I’m furious at the shooter. I want answers from the FBI for why it missed the signs.
It will take a long time for me to stop being angry. What happened in Orlando can’t be ignored. Nor can the causes behind it — the real causes, the ones supported by facts.