My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and families of the massacre at Pulse, the Orlando night club. The death toll was originally reported at 50 and 53 wounded, the highest in any mass shooting in US history. The shooter claimed to do it for ISIS and there is some evidence to suggest that possibility. I am not here to debate his motivations, but I am concerned about the ramifications that seem to occur when a horrible act like this is branded an ISIS terrorist attack by the press, law enforcement, and/or opportunistic politicians.
The news cycle is greatly expanded by the press when ISIS is involved. A local hate crime becomes an international headline that dominates the 24/7 news channels for weeks. Add to that, the fact that it is an election year and our favorite politician can renew(then backtrack) his call to ban Muslims from entering the US, suggest we begin surveillance against Muslim Americans in their place of worship, and bring back torture from the glory days of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. The fact that the shooter was an American citizen born here, does not seem to matter.
It also masks the 400lb gorilla in the room: should anyone – especially someone on the no fly list and the subject of a past FBI investigation – be able to legally purchase assault rifles and hand guns with no questions asked? Attaching the four letter word, ISIS, also makes it easier for members of congress to spinelessly vote against any reasonable gun related bill designed to protect the public.
The worst consequence of the ISIS terror tag is the additional motivation it may provide for other sociopaths to commit these horrific acts. The desire for fame or recognition is often a big motivating factor driving these individuals. If claiming an act has been done by, for, or in the name of ISIS significantly raises its visibility, I am afraid more lone wolves will perpetrate these terrible crimes while exclaiming: “ISIS made me do it!”.