Thoughts on the Orlando nightclub massacre?

Orlando shootings

I mean, aside from Oh, my God, here’s another horrible thing that’s happened?

Pretty much all the usual, trite political reactions were aired yesterday, reflecting our divisions over guns, terrorism and homosexuality. Although there have also been encouraging signs of coming together.

Personally, I’m still in the Oh, my God, how horrible mode. The only good news we’ve gotten was when the death toll was revised down from 50 to 49.

Here’s the latest. As I type, the FBI director is giving more information. He just called people who do such things “savages.” Apt. But what can anyone say that would ever help us understand the mind of someone who would do this?

Thoughts?

The killer really liked selfies. This is one of many out there.

The killer really liked selfies. This is one of many out there.

 

65 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Orlando nightclub massacre?

  1. Bob Amundson

    More research is needed on risk assessment, from child protection, to domestic violence, to terrorism, in all situations were violence is a possibility. That is especially important as the legal standard remains posing an “imminent threat” to themselves or others.

    Reply
  2. Lynn Teague

    We are always going to have people whose minds go in sick directions, either because they are mentally ill or just plain bad people. The notion that the answer lies in the direction of better mental health care might have the virtue of encouraging mental health care (which we surely need) but is unlikely to stop these killings. Not all who become killers would be diagnosed as dangerous ahead of time even if everyone were compelled to sit down with a professional psychologist for an evaluation. Even if some were diagnosed as having a propensity for this kind of behavior before doing anything evil,, the civil rights issues that would arise in trying to restrict them before they commit a crime are pretty daunting. So, this is not the answer.

    Pragmatically the answer appears to be restricting access to things that can be used to kill lots of people in a short time. (Note my avoiding the furor about what is and isn’t an assault weapon.) This answer is practical, but our Congress Critters are not so inclined. Even prohibiting purchases by those on the terrorist watch lists, thereby risking delaying a purchase by an occasional innocent listed there, is too much. Far better to have innocent children and adults gunned down in their schools and other public places.

    And yes I know there are a lot of guns out there now, but if we don’t start trying to halt the proliferation we can never aspire to the impressively low mass homicide rates that civilized countries have. Instead, we will just keep getting worse.

    Reply
    1. Bryan Caskey

      “Even prohibiting purchases by those on the terrorist watch lists, thereby risking delaying a purchase by an occasional innocent listed there, is too much. Far better to have innocent children and adults gunned down in their schools and other public places.”

      I wish you wouldn’t imply that people who don’t agree with your policy position are in favor of murder.

      Reply
          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Unless Mike Cakora weighs in to help Bryan in these gun-control discussions, he’s like the Sundance Kid in that last scene, with two guns in hand, spinning and firing this way and that, lead flying at him from all directions….

            (From 1:20 to 1:45 on this clip.)

            Reply
          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            sundance

            This still grabbed from the clip shows what I’m talking about as well as a still can do. (Click on it to blow it up.)

            It’s probably indicative of some serious mental problems, but I really identified with this moment in the film when I was young. It was a sort of existential, grace-under-fire thing. I had a poster of the iconic image (below) with both Butch and Sundance on my wall in my room when I was in high school.

            But the very best bit was moments before, when it was just Sundance out there spinning this way and that, providing covering fire for Butch…

            butch_cassidy

            Reply
      1. Lynn Teague

        I didn’t imply “in favor of murder.” What I said is that protecting someone who would be delayed in getting a gun because they are on the watch list is given much higher priority than preventing potential terrorists from getting guns that can kill a lot of people in a short time. This strikes me as wildly misplaced priorities.

        Reply
    1. Bob Amundson

      Bryan, and I read your post and I agree. I do not understand using a smart phone to record the terror. I hope that if I’m faced with a life and death situation such as Orlando and other mass shootings, that I will have the courage to act and do everything I can to save lives

      Reply
      1. Bryan Caskey

        Me, too.

        We’re all capable of being prepared. I think of the guys like Todd Beamer on Flight 93 who decided to go fight the terrorists in the cockpit of the airplane rather than just go quietly.

        Reply
  3. Mark Stewart

    The revision in the death toll was the shooter. He’s dead, too, but his death means nothing.

    I have the feeling he also had more common with his victims than he could articulate.

    Reply
  4. Bob Amundson

    The shooter actually took the MMPI-2 (the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory is the most widely used and researched clinical assessment tool used by mental health professionals) as a screen for his security job. He was retested in 2013 (not sure why or what tool). The MMPI would identify the threat, so something happened after 2013. My guess is Daesh (please use that term rather than the other terms).

    Daesh is a threat to our safety and needs to be eliminated.

    Reply
    1. Mark Stewart

      Like self-loathing homosexuality? This killer’s problems were his own; ISIS just a delusional justification.

      Reply
  5. Bob Amundson

    Bryan, the shooter was in a database maintained by the FBI (I believe; some federal agency). Currently, weapon databases don’t cross-reference with databases showing who gets questioned by the FBI. The FBI has advocated for an expansion of surveillance and databases, but they’ve met staunch criticism by civil liberties advocates and others who say this sort of technology will simply lead to more mass surveillance — while not actually catching terrorists and other criminals. What do you think?

    Reply
    1. Bryan Caskey

      I’m all in favor of making the NICS database better. I’d like to see more money spent to help make state and local databases work better with the NICS database. If you think about it like a net, I’m in favor of making the net a tighter one, with smaller holes (better database communication, more information) rather than making the net bigger (adding additional categories on who is prohibited). I’d also like to see tougher sentencing on crimes involving guns.

      I don’t know what “database” the Orlando terrorist was in or why he was on it, so I really couldn’t comment intelligently on it. However, simply being investigated by the FBI isn’t a crime. I don’t think we should curtail someone’s rights simply because they’re being investigated by the FBI. Charged, indicted, sure. But just investigated or suspected? Nah.

      And I’m not in the camp of people worried about more mass surveillance. I just don’t think you lose a constitutional right simply by being suspected of a crime or being suspected of committing a crime in the future. That’s the problem that I have with the argument that people on the Terrorist Database should be prohibited from purchasing a gun.

      Reply
      1. Bob Amundson

        I understand your point, but some government attorneys do not charge or indict unless there is a high probability of obtaining a conviction. I wouldn’t go as far as making the standard reasonable suspicion, but would like to see more legal action taken with probable cause.

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        1. Bryan Caskey

          The right to bear arms is a fundamental right. Lots of people may not like it, but it’s right there in the Constitution. To prohibit someone from purchasing/owning a firearm is to deprive them of a fundamental right. With that in mind, we all know that if you want to deprive someone of a fundamental right, you have to give them due process. That essentially means the person needs be be provided notice of the proceedings against him and and opportunity to be heard.

          For instance, public employees get a notice and opportunity before they’re fired. You get a trial before you’re put in prison for a crime. Accordingly, just getting put on a list isn’t due process. Simply because an agent of the executive branch has placed your name on a list shouldn’t be enough to deprive you of a fundamental right.

          What other rights should we take away from people who we put on lists? I mean, maybe we shouldn’t let people on the terrorist watch list go out and assemble together, ’cause they might be doing something bad, right? Or maybe we could eliminate their right to refuse to incriminate themselves, cause we need to know what they’ve been up to. Or maybe we could quarter some soldiers with people on the terrorist watch list just so we could keep a closer eye on them. See what I’m getting at?

          Reply
          1. Bryan Caskey

            I’m just going to assume from the lack of responses that you’re all nodding your head silently and agreeing with me.

            There’s no one here who actually thinks being investigated by the FBI (or being put on a list) means you should be prohibited from buying a gun, right?

            Reply
            1. Bob Amundson

              I just don’t know. I wish I could poll our Founding Fathers and ask them if the 2nd Amendment is absolute. They did not live in a world where 30 rounds are shot in 30 seconds or less.

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              1. Barry

                but they did live in a world where a lot of people were carrying guns around with them all the time, often right out in the open.

                Reply
                1. Barry

                  – and weren’t afraid to pull it out of it’s holster and take on someone- in the street if necessary.

                2. Bob Amundson

                  In a mostly agrarian society were there were fewer large “targets of opportunity” and less firepower capability.

                  I’m just not comfortable with everyone carrying an AR-15. I am comfortable with Bryan having one. I’d like to find a solution where Bryan can easily obtain his AR-15 and individuals like the Orlando shooter can not.

                3. Bob Amundson

                  The wording leaves plenty of room for legal and political wrangling over the meaning of words like “well regulated,” “militia,” “right,” “people,” “keep,” “bear” and “arms.”

                  Doesn’t evolving technology call for evolving regulation? In practice, the implementation of the Second Amendment has never been strictly “absolute.” Most gun owners accept that civilians typically can’t own fully automatic rifles or tanks or nuclear weapons. Our understanding of the “arms” of the Second Amendment has evolved over the years, subject to shifts in political and legal norms.

                4. Doug Ross

                  I’ll give you some more gun control if you give me some more death penalty sentences carried out swiftly. Okay? The Roof kid should be dead by now.

                5. Bryan Caskey

                  Ah, another person who doesn’t like due process of law. I see that due process ain’t too popular with the commentariat here. Noted.

                6. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I assume, Barry, that by “but they did live in a world where a lot of people were carrying guns around with them all the time, often right out in the open,” you mean to refer to the Wild West, which was called “Wild” for a reason.

                  And some of the lawmen we lionize today had no qualms whatsoever of making men surrender their guns before they came into town to get liquored up. The right of cowboys to walk around with six-guns evident on their hips, ready to slap leather any second, was not a right universally acknowledged even in that time and place.

                  I, and others my age, grew up on unrealistic westerns in which every man went around with a gun in a holster, except for wusses such as shopkeepers or bankers. I’m pretty sure that is an exaggeration, and I suspect that people who went obviously armed were probably looked at askance by the townspeople, although it may have seemed marginally less bizarre than it would today on Gervais Street.

                  Just as gunfights were nothing like the ritualized affairs we know from movies, with two men approaching down the dusty street, pausing with their hands hovering over their holsters, scrupulously waiting for the other guy to go for his gun before drawing.

                  Gunfights such as the one at the OK Corral were wild, confused affairs more akin to what happened at that video game store the other day…

                7. Bob Amundson

                  “Doesn’t evolving technology call for evolving regulation?”

                  I’d like an answer to that question many are asking.

              2. Brad Warthen Post author

                I’ll just say two quick things about the 2nd Amendment:

                — The words “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” come FIRST. They are not an afterthought. They strongly indicate a condition under which the right to keep and bear arms is not to be infringed.

                — “Arms” could mean a lot of things, I suppose, including swords. But to the extent it referred to firearms, the amendment was passed and ratified by people who had no way of conceiving of a gun or rifle that could fire more often than once a minute.

                We must always keep those two things in mind, particularly if we are originalists.

                Back to that first item above… the most quoted version of the amendment was the one the Congress passed:

                A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

                But that’s not the version that the states ratified and SecState Jefferson authenticated. That was a cleaned-up version without the bizarrely misplaced commas and typical 18th-century promiscuous capitalization:

                A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

                Removing the weird commas (what WAS the drafter of that version thinking?) makes the sentence read more clearly, and helps us see the significance of that militia clause.

                On the other hand, normalizing the capitalization makes “militia” seem less a proper noun, such as “South Carolina Militia” or “Massachusetts Militia.” That gives comfort to wackos who think their private militias of like-minded sorts have specific rights and duties under the Constitution.

                I must also admit that as clear as it seems to me that the intent was for folks to have a musket at home over the mantle that they could take with them when the militia is called up (and NOT that there was an individual right for hateful young men to take semiautomatic handguns to Bible study), it IS possible to read it as establishing an individual right. Under that interpretation, the opening clause would just be a digression explaining WHY the Framers were granting such an absolute individual right. It seems odd to me that someone would include such digressions unless they somehow defined or limited the rights being granted, but that’s just me — I believe in the economic use of words, particularly in a national foundational documents.

                It would have been nice to have had an editor on hand to change it to something like, “Within the context of militia service, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

                That would be clearer. But we’d probably still fight about it.

                Reply
                1. Bryan Caskey

                  “‘Arms’ could mean a lot of things, I suppose, including swords. But to the extent it referred to firearms, the amendment was passed and ratified by people who had no way of conceiving of a gun or rifle that could fire more often than once a minute.

                  We must always keep those two things in mind, particularly if we are originalists.”

                  That’s not how it works. You wouldn’t argue that the Founders had no way of conceiving of mass media, television, and the internet, so we can’t be sure the First Amendment really applies to those.

                2. Bryan Caskey

                  If I told you that Jefferson owned a repeating rifle, would that affect your thoughts on the matter?

                3. Bryan Caskey

                  The 2A was codified to prevent the elimination of the militia by simply disarming the people. The idea is that the men would bring with them the arms in common use at the time.

                  Accordingly, that’s why the 2A doesn’t protect (or isn’t absolute) as to protect everything. Nuclear weapons and tanks have never been in common use by civilians, so they’re not protected by the 2A. That was the logic with the NFA of 1934, when machine guns and sawed off shotguns were banned, because they weren’t in common use at the time for lawful purposes. It’s also not absolute where you can carry. Think about all the gun-free zones we have. It’s also not absolute as to who may own a firearm. Think of all the prohibited groups.

                  But we’ve already had this conversation a billion times already, and I’m sure we’ll have it again the next time a jihadist kills some people. Too bad we can’t talk about that.

                4. Bob Amundson

                  “Doesn’t evolving technology call for evolving regulation?”

                  I’d like an answer to that question many are asking.

                5. Bryan Caskey

                  As long a the regulation or law comports with the Bill of Rights, go ahead. Do you have doubts about First Amendment protection to television, twitter, and online blog comments? I mean, could the founders really have imagined BradWarthen.com?

                6. Barry

                  “I assume, Barry, that by “but they did live in a world where a lot of people were carrying guns around with them all the time, often right out in the open,” you mean to refer to the Wild West, which was called “Wild” for a reason.”

                  I was thinking about a lot of places.

                  My grandfather had a shotgun and rifle hanging in his truck for 40 years.

                  I had an great uncle that carried a pistol around on his hip everywhere he went when I was a child- out shopping, in stores, etc.

                  It’s really silly to suggest the founding fathers had no real idea that people would have the audacity to carry their weapons around with them.

                  Do I want everyone walking around with pistols and rifles? of course not.

                7. Bob Amundson

                  Bryan, apples, oranges. Speech does not kill people; if it does (such as yelling in a crowded theater “FIRE” when there is no fire and people are killed), it is considered a violation of the first amendment.

                8. Bryan Caskey

                  It’s not a “violation” of the First Amendment. It’s you mean that it’s not protected by the First Amendment. Sure. But that’s such an overused line that doesn’t really mean anything. Do you remember the context of that line?

                  Justice Holmes wrote the line about shouting fire in a crowded theater as a rhetorical device to justify jailing people for anti-war advocacy, an activity that is now unquestionably protected by the First Amendment.

                  It’s an old line, but it doesn’t really mean anything other than “some speech can be banned” — which is not controversial. The phrase does not advance a discussion of which speech falls outside of the protection of the First Amendment. Likewise, it doesn’t advance a discussion of what is outside the protection of the Second Amendment.

                  Try to think about what is and isn’t protected by the Second Amendment. No one argues that some things aren’t.

                9. Bob Amundson

                  So perhaps some “arms” can be banned, just as some speech can be. Sorry for the lack of precision in my wording.

                  Bryan, compromise may be a good idea. I support you owning an AR-15; not everyone.

              3. Burt

                What’s your limit, a good rifleman back in the days of muzzle loaders could get off 4 shots in a minute.

                Reply
  6. Bill

    As terrifying as it may be, this was not an act of terror – despite every effort to force fit it into that convenient box. This was murder out of a misshapen sense of pride.

    Reply
    1. Bryan Caskey

      I’m picturing Bill after Pearl Harbor:

      “What motivated those Japanese pilots may never be known, but the attack on Pearl Harbor clearly shows it’s time for a serious conversation about banning private aircraft in America.”

      Reply
      1. Bill

        And here we have another silly WW2 comparison (there’ve been a lot here lately) — which just goes to show how eager some folks are to make glib use of history. Actually, living in an honor-obsessed culture like SC’s historically has been (and Afghanistan’s is), the mentality operating in the Orlando massacre should be pretty apparent.

        Reply
        1. Bryan Caskey

          “Actually, living in an honor-obsessed culture like SC’s historically has been (and Afghanistan’s is), the mentality operating in the Orlando massacre should be pretty apparent.”

          You’ll have to ‘splain it to me a bit. The guy pledged allegiance to ISIS and said he supported the Boston Bombings. I’m just sorta taking him at his word. You’re saying he pledged allegiance to ISIS as some sort of ruse to throw the coppers off of his real (secret) motive which you know for a fact?

          Sometimes a guy pledging allegiance to ISIS is what we like to call a “clue”.

          Reply
        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          Note to self: Bill is another one of the regulars who HATES references to what Lenny Bruce called “the Good War, the war against Hitler.”

          So everybody keep that in mind.

          Bryan, maybe we should switch to Napoleonic Wars references, the way I did yesterday

          Reply
          1. Bill

            And Brad is one of those folks who just can’t get enough of WW2, because it makes them feel all warm and fuzzy inside – in their minds, it’s the gold standard of wars, the one they’re always wishing we could fight again. Since practically none of the wars fought since then fit that mold, they’ll wallow in nostalgia for the “Good War” because it’s easier and more comforting than dealing with the realities of the wars we’ve been involved in since. Everybody loves simple answers, and this is just another kind of simple answer.

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            1. Bryan Caskey

              “Everybody loves simple answers, and this is just another kind of simple answer.”

              Ban some guns that are scary looking! That will solve the worldwide problem of murderous jihadists who want to kill people! (Says the guy who doesn’t like simplistic and ineffective solutions to complex problems.)

              Reply
  7. Karen Pearson

    I do not think that the right to purchase an assault weapon outweighs the right the children at Sandy Hook or the people in Orlando’s right to live. That said, I don’t disagree with a person’s right to have and/or carry a gun if that person has been trained in its use and can demonstrate that they can use it properly. Right now, to the best of my knowledge, you don’t even have to know how to load one or put it on safety to purchase one. The seller will be happy to sell you the correct ammo, also. I also don’t think anyone who has been shown to be violent (e.g. guilty of domestic abuse, past strong arm robbery) or mentally unstable should be allowed to purchase a weapon. We insist people be able to demonstrate how to drive a car before they can legally drive. If a person has DWI convictions or has been caught driving irresponsibly we certainly take away their driver’s license for awhile. If they repeat, it’s gone for a longer period. And we certainly don’t argue that it’s useless to take away, or even boot their car because they’ll just be able to drive anyway.

    Reply
    1. Bryan Caskey

      “I also don’t think anyone who has been shown to be violent (e.g. guilty of domestic abuse, past strong arm robbery) or mentally unstable should be allowed to purchase a weapon.”

      This is already existing law.

      “We insist people be able to demonstrate how to drive a car before they can legally drive.”

      Guns are already more regulated than cars. If we treated guns like cars, that would be a reduction in regulation, not in increase.

      1. You aren’t required to register your car or pay any taxes on it if you use it only on your private property or just at race tracks. A vast number of firearms remain on private property almost their entire life.
      2. People on private property don’t need a driver’s license. Again, you only need that for public roads. In a sense, that’s what we already have for your CWP. South Carolina set up the laws that give you a licence if you want to carry your gun around, and you have to pass a test, just like you do for a driver’s license.
      3. If my CWP was like a driver’s license, I could take it anywhere in the country and it would be valid in every state, just like my driver’s license is.
      4. There is no specific Constitutional provision that gives you the right to drive a car, but there is one for keeping and bearing arms.
      5. Car dealers don’t need to be licensed by the federal government. Gun dealers do.
      6. Car dealers don’t need to keep a record of every transaction. Gun dealers do.
      7. You can buy a car across state lines. Not so with guns.

      Reply
      1. Burt

        3. If they standardized the training requirements this is how it should work. SC has one of the tougher CWP requirements so we should be able to carry anywhere with conceal carry laws.

        7. I can go into almost any state and buy a rifle or a shotgun without any problem. Pistols have to be shipped to my home state to a FFL license holder.

        Reply
  8. Bryan Caskey

    How did the gun bans work out in Paris? That didn’t really seem to stop the jihadists from killing lots of folks. Orlando is our Charlie Hebdo event, and all y’all are chasing your tails over AR-15s.

    If you think the gun was the problem in Orlando, *you’re* part of the problem.

    Reply
  9. Assistant

    This is what I posted over at Bryan’s blog:
    Great thoughts, but I’d go a teensy step further and recommend that CWP-holders make a habit of carrying every day, everywhere it’s legal. I was disheartened to read about a robbery at a Waffle House here in SC recently, more so because none of the patrons were packing. Sheesh, I hope none were CWP-holders who decided to go non-commando that morning.

    The fact is that one does not know when a firearm will be needed, and when the need arises, it’s better to have one than not. Think of it as being part of the militia. We’re in a long war with the radical Islamiscists, so consider yourself as a member of the militia. The bonus is that you can irritate the anti-gunners by ruining one of their Second Amendment talking points. But you can also consider yourself to be a Designated Defender as a CWP-holder who carries whenever it’s legal to do so.

    But even more importantly, in any group of partiers, there should be one, the Designated Defender, who agrees to avoid drinking alcohol and to pack heat. This works in those states where one can legally carry concealed in establishments that serve alcohol as long as one does not consume alcohol. That’s the law in Virginia and South Carolina, for example. In the remaining states, CWP-holders should continue to lobby for such laws.

    The odds of an ISIL attack in Columbia and environs, is likely low, but I can think of at least three soft targets. There are also the random wackos that appear periodically and need to be stopped quickly.

    I don’t carry because I’m afraid – I’m not. I carry because I like being prepared.

    Reply
    1. Barry

      I have my CWP. I don’t carry often, but the guys I hang around with heck(even my parents) have their CWPs.

      I am almost always around 2-3 guys who are carrying.

      Reply

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