Progress Possible against Headwind of Mass Killings

Honolulu Star - Advertiser, June 14, 2016 | Go to article overview

Progress Possible against Headwind of Mass Killings


The nation has become all but numb to the repetitive shocks of the mass shootings that light up the news wires at seemingly regular intervals. And the inability of elected leaders to find a way forward in response has left the public feeling powerless against the slaughter.

Sunday's bloodbath in Orlando, Fla., was a heinous attack at Pulse, a gay nightclub, perpetrated by a lone gunman who claimed variously to be fighting on behalf of ISIS and in alliance with other groups. This was a hate crime as well as an act of terror.

It's not clear if ISIS or any other organization had direct ties to Omar Mateen, killer of 49. But organizational control is no longer necessary in this age of social media and its instant linkages. Inspiration by an Islamic terror group, or any other radical ideology, is enough of a spark to light the fire.

And the difficulty of erasing that link or controlling the criminal behavior it spawns is what frustrates policy makers. The complexity of the issue ensures that progress can be made only incrementally -- but nonetheless, it can be made.

It starts with the realization that fighting back against these attacks requires increasing vigilance in crimefighting efforts domestically. Ramping up the bombing raids overseas isn't enough. The battle with the so-called Islamic State has necessary components of military force, of course, but even military experts concede that this isn't conventional warfare.

One surprising element of the Orlando story was that Mateen, who also died in the final police counteroffensive, accomplished what he did despite being under some law-enforcement scrutiny.

In Hawaii, where gun regulation is very strict, it's hard to imagine how someone like this gunman, who had twice caught the attention of law enforcement, could end up possessing the firepower he had acquired.

The FBI, which had pursued two separate inquiries based on reports, removed him from watch lists when the probes produced no basis for prosecution. …

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