By State Representative
Leon D. Young
This week, I join a stunned nation in offering my prayers and sympathy to the families of the victims and the entire LGBT community, in the aftermath of the horrific slaughter at an Orlando nightclub last Sunday morning.
The human carnage is beyond belief: 49 confirmed dead; at least 53 wounded; and the lives of countless others are now irreparably damaged. We may never come to know, or fully understand the motive(s) the prompted the shooter, Omar Seddiqui Mateen, to commit this dastardly deed. But, there is sufficient evidence that leads us to several conclusions.
First, the shooter was self-radicalized via the internet and expressed his allegiance to ISIS shortly before being killed. Second, the fact that he opted to target a gay nightclub, a substantial distance from his home in Florida, might suggest some underpinnings of a hate crime.
Moreover, Seddiqui Mir Mateen, the shooter’s father, has imparted to the media that his son may have been motivated after witnessing two men kissing, and touching each other, in Miami recently and was infuriated that his three-year-old son had seen it, too. And third, the shooter seemed to exhibit some definite signs of mental health issues.
In an interview, Omar Mateen’s ex-wife, Sitora Yusufy, said that her husband had become controlling, violently abusive and erratic after they were married.
And, according to Sitora, he (Omar) often made anti-gay comments when he was angry and expressed his intolerance towards homosexuals. Naturally, the two presidential hopefuls, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have offered their respective thoughts on this latest mass shooting, the deadliest on U.S. soil.
Without distinguishing between mainstream Muslims and Islamist terrorists, Mr. Trump suggested that all Muslim immigrants posed potential threats to America’s security and called for a ban on migrants from any part of the world with “a proven history of terrorism” against the United States or its allies. Not surprisingly, Hillary Clinton had a totally different perspective, and solution, to the Orlando tragedy.
She made the argument for tighter gun control laws and, more specifically, a ban on assault weapons. She also cautioned against using incendiary language aimed at condemning all Muslims which, in her view, only serves to drive a wedge between the Muslim community and local law enforcement. Certain facts speak for themselves.
Omar Mateen was a self-radicalized, domestic terrorist. But, contrary to the fictional narrative that Trump espouses, the shooter was not an “Afghan,” but an American born in New York. Moreover, the shooter was legally able to purchase a handgun and a “long gun,” both used in the commission of the massacre, even after being a person of interest in two terrorist investigations by the FBI.
I would be the first to admit that no law enforcement agency has the ability to read minds or to predict future acts of terror. However, the unwarranted availability of handguns and assault weapons in the country is simply beyond dispute. This, in my view, makes us ALL less safe, and only ensures that these senseless mass shootings will continue to occur and wreak havoc on more innocent victims.
We must stand united in defeating this terrorist threat both here and abroad.