Orlando

Shooting_at_Pulse_NightclubWhile it was a shocking incident for those involved, for us, television viewers from afar, the Orlando massacre was not in the least surprising. Not surprising either that American politicians should exploit the tragedy even before victim’s families were informed of their loss.

And we will not be surprised by politicians and other commentators’ puzzlingly irrational ranking of the issues involved in this unfortunately predictable event. Isis and the FBI will come in for a hammering of course even if they are mere bystanders.

And the killer’s personality will feature high on the list. For according to one of his workmates Omar Mateen was an angry racist, homophobic man who also had little respect for women.

According to his ex wife, he was violent and mentally unstable. He had been investigated twice by the FBI after workmates had become concerned about his admiration for Isis. The investigators were probably wary of him but apparently did not feel able to satisfy a judge that there was sufficient evidence to lock him up.

On what grounds? Because his views were anathema to most Americans? Even in Homeland Security America,  hateful views are not against the law

It seems plausible that this violent, mentally unstable man was looking for a violent, ideologically   extreme cause and Isis ticked all the boxes. But calling this slaughter terrorism tends to obscure the picture, which is that this violent, mentally unstable man happened to live in America, where three and a half million homes boast America’s most popular firearms, an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, also known as the mass-killer’s gun of choice.

 It happens that even in America, where gun-control is known to be flexible to say the least, Florida is particularly loath to embarrass gun-seeking customers with intrusive questions.

So the main issue is unquestionably an addiction to guns. And although it’s puzzling to us, most Americans, intelligent and otherwise, don’t see it that way.

But what of New Zealand gun control? Year by year it seems there is an increase in serious guns in the hands of criminals, which suggests a lucrative import racket. It’s not a political issue yet but complaisance is one of our cherished national characteristics.

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Chris Horan

Chris is a former social worker, probation officer and Family Court counsellor, living in Hawea in the South Island.