We need to change how we discuss mass shootings

We need to change how we discuss mass shootings

We need to change how we discuss mass shootings
October 25
21:23 2017

What constitutes a terrorist? Is it the actions they commit, or the color of their skin? What line separates a domestic terrorist from a lone wolf?

Inherently, the terms “lone-wolf” and “terrorist” differ by technicalities. A lone wolf is a still a terrorist, just one without an affiliation. To be considered a terrorist, one must be attached to an organization that perpetrates violence.

If the shooter is Muslim, then the perpetrator is automatically assumed to be affiliated with ISIS. Both Stephen Paddock and Omar Mateen could have been described as lone-wolves, as none of their actions represented their backgrounds.

Not all Muslims are terrorists, and not all white men are homicidal shooters.

It was Mateen’s connection with ISIS and his radicalization that cemented his image as just a terrorist. His actions represented those of ISIS’s, and therefore couldn’t be considered a lone wolf.

Trump is not wrong when he calls Paddock a terrorist, it is his response based on the religion of the shooter that is the problem. Attacks by Muslims in America and Europe have led our president to call for vetting of Muslim refugees, while in response to shootings by white people, he has only offered his condolences and not called for policy changes whatsoever.

When Mateen first committed his act of terror, he was portrayed as a radical Islamic terrorist with connections to ISIS. Not only was he a terrorist, he was also a horrible human being. However, when Stephen Paddock was found to be the Vegas shooter, the Washington Post came out with this intriguing headline: “Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock enjoyed gambling, country music, lived quiet life before massacre.” Why did the first thing the media do after hearing about a mass shooting was to humanize the shooter? Paddock should have suffered the same fate as Mateen, and should have been portrayed in the media as the person he was; a murderer.

The focus on Paddock’s penchant for country music should never have made headlines, which should have focused on his vices. Take this headline about Mateen: “Always agitated, always mad: Omar Mateen, according to those who knew him. “

Determining the motives of these attackers has always been hard to determine. Dylann Roof, a terrorist that killed nine African-Americans in a Charleston Church in 2015, was failed to be labeled a terrorist by the government, even after he said his motive was to shoot black people. This would land him squarely in the white-supremacist category and confirmed him as a terrorist.

When looking at the bigger picture, the emphasis shouldn’t be on the words to describe these murderers, but rather preventing another mass shooting from happening.

There have been 273 mass shootings in 2017 alone, and the emphasis should be placed on trying to prevent these tragedies from occurring again. Background checks and mental health checks when trying to get guns should be implemented, and more help for individuals suffering from mental issues should be necessary.

The radicalization of Muslims with an immediate association to ISIS over social media must be stopped, and hopefully, with these changes, we won’t see another Vegas or Orlando.

About Author

Matthew Li

Matthew Li

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