Homegrown terror or liberal gun laws

Homegrown terror or liberal gun laws

"The shooting underscores the role of easy gun availability."

The mass shooting at a disabled service centre in San Bernardino, California, that left 14 people dead and 17 others injured, has sent shock waves across the world. It has come close on the heels of the attacks in Paris. The Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the killings in San Bernardino. While the veracity of its claims is being probed, the US has declared the violence as an act of terrorism. It appears that the couple, who carried out the killings and were of Pakistani origin, may have been radicalised. Speculation is rife that the wife was indoctrinated in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia and radicalised her husband later. While externalising the enemy is a convenient response at a time of crisis, it is important for the US to unearth the truth. Were the San Bernardino attacks an act of domestic terrorism involving self-radicalised individuals operating below the radar for months, if not years, before striking at a soft target? If this is what happened, the US should be seriously concerned as dealing with homegrown terrorism is far harder than that emanating abroad. Tightening visa procedures and beefing up security in airplanes, airports and ports is possible, whereas providing security for every soft target in a large country like the US is not.

Even if the woman was radicalised before she arrived in the US that she could slip in undetected by the US visa screening system points to loopholes. A rethink in the US’ homeland security strategy can be expected. Targeting members of the Muslim community must be avoided as this will only serve to deepen their alienation.The attack in San Bernardino ave underscored yet again the facilitative role that easy availability of guns in the US plays in mass shootings. The couple were able to build a massive arsenal of sophisticated guns and several thousands of rounds of ammunition. If tight gun laws were in place, their acquiring of weapons on this massive scale would have appeared on intelligence radars, setting off alarm bells. Perhaps, the killers could have been pre-empted. The US gun lobby argues that violence and terrorist attacks happen even in countries like France and Norway which have tight gun laws. Indeed, they do. But not with the alarming frequency that mass shootings happen in the US. The number of gun attacks in the US over the past three years is inching towards the 1000-mark. America must act now to tighten gun laws.
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