We’re over the 24-hour mark since the Las Vegas shooting occurred and now that the sympathy is starting to die down a bit, the real emotions are starting to come out. Mainly everyone’s opinions about why this isn’t being referred to as a terror attack.
Some are accusing it’s because he’s white, some are saying because he’s a Trump supporter, and other’s just believe in their hearts that the act was an act of terrorism. While the shooting was most definitely terrorizing, sadly it doesn’t technically qualify as a terrorist attack my definition.
The definition as stated by the federal law states: “An 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.”
The FBI announced on Monday’s press conference that there were no connection between the gunman and any terrorist group. And because he shot himself, there is very little proof as to if he did have ulterior motives aside from having the strange urge to kill people, as well as himself.
Bruce Hoffman, an expert in terrorism at Georgetown University’s director of security studies said, “We have the tendency to label anything we abhor as terrorism. But the fact is, even if it may cause terror and generate profound fear and anxiety, it’s the political motive that is salient in determining whether it’s an act of terrorism.” And that statement sums it up. We are so quick to jump and label things based on what we think the term means without knowing or looking into the term we are accusing people of.
Legally they can’t refer to it as a terrorist attack because without knowing his motive, they cannot make a confirmation.
It’s just like if someone was drinking and driving, unless they have a breathalyzer proof (whether the person is alive or not) they cannot make an arrest or press charges. Obviously it’s not even close to being on the same scale, but it’s just an example.
Let’s look over the facts:
- We don’t know what his motives are.
- It was not done in a political setting or towards people of an opposing political view.
- He did not intimidate people before the shots occurred, he silently caused eruption.
The biggest fact is that what he did was no different than previous shootings in US history that weren’t labelled as a terror attack for the same reasons as his.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take an unfortunate walk down memory lane shall we?
20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children between six and seven years old, and six staff members. He also shot his mother before he attacked the school, and finished by killing himself. It was proven he had Asperger’s, suffered severely from depression, anxiety, anorexia and OCD, yet did the mass killing because he was depressed and had access to guns. There was no known motive.
It was the deadliest mass shooting at an elementary or high school in U.S. history as well as the fourth-deadliest mass shooting by a single person in U.S. history (at that time). Yet, he was not called a terrorist. He was called a monster.
Do you remember the Virginia Tech massacre on April 16, 2007? Seung-Hui Cho, a senior at Virginia Tech, shot and killed 32 people, wounded 17 others in two separate attacks before committing suicide. He was diagnosed with severe depression as well as selective autism, an anxiety disorder that inhibited him from speaking in the eighth grade and experienced extreme difficulties for years before that as a young immigrant. He had no history with any terrorism groups, and had no motive.
No one called him a terrorist just because he wasn’t an American-born citizen. People were almost more up in arms over how the school handled the situation rather than gun control, although large movements to improve the issue were made in the months following.
And if you want to bring race into things let’s look at it this way. People strongly believe the attacks by white supremacists and neo-Nazis, such as the 2015 mass shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina were not considered a terrorist attack. Why? Is it because their white or was it because it was in it’s own country? Because last time I checked it absolutely was a terrorist attack.
Even the shooting in Columbine High School back in 1999 was a terrorist attack. It was highly planned, they had a motive, a known history of hate crimes and intimidation, and they executed their plan. Maybe back then because the term “terrorist” or “terrorism” wasn’t used often because in North America it wasn’t publicized?
Someone’s skin color or nationality doesn’t indicate who a terrorist is or not. Labels are stereotypes, they essentially mean nothing. As proven by Columbine, or even Orlando, white people can be terrorists, homophobes, or racists. Just like 9/11 proved that Muslims can be terrorists or extremists. The individual themselves and their actions and beliefs are what makes them a terrorist, not the color of their skin.
It doesn’t matter what race, nationality, sexual orientation, or gender you are. If you commit a crime, you commit a crime, and that’s what makes you a horrible person. And whether you’re a terrorist or not, if you kill someone in any way, you are a murderer and a disgusting human being.
So stop using stereotypes and blaming the media for “hiding” the Las Vegas shooting as a terrorist attack. It’s not. It’s simply proven for now to be as a man who seemed to live a depressing life and had access to extremely dangerous weapons and explosives that anyone in the U.S. can have access to as well.
Sadly, even if we call this monster a terrorist what change is that going to make in our society? He’s dead. He killed many people for no reason and we will never know why. But no matter what we call him or how badly we rip him apart it isn’t going to change our history.
We should be focusing on why the gun laws in the U.S. are still the way they are, or why the education system doesn’t teach their children about these tragic events, not whether this guy is a terrorist or not.
We need to take this tragedy and make the change we desperately want to see. The conversation isn’t going to end here, it’s just getting started, and hopefully we won’t have to live each day in fear that this is going to happen again.
Featured image via ohmyposhevents.