‘San Bernardino shooting: Terrorist attack or personal trauma?’
Fourteen people were killed and 17 injured in as gunmen attacked a center for disabled people in San Bernardino, California on Wednesday. Two suspects – a man and a woman – were later killed in a shootout with police.
The FBI is investigating whether the shooting was a terrorist act or not, but Islamic State has recently threatened the US with attacks.
RT asked Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco, whether such threats should be taken seriously and whether such terrorist groups are capable of carrying out attacks on American soil.
“It is easy for anybody to carry out this kind of attacks, because gun laws are so lax,” Zunes said.
“Whether you had an ideological or religious motivation, whether it was a work place grievance, whether it was mental illness or whatever - virtually anybody can walk in and buy assault rifles,” he told RT.
The professor argues that whether the attack will be defined as terrorism or not, “will depend in part on whether there is a political motivation in the attack.” He believes that “this seems unlikely given the target.”
“At the same time the first suspect has been identified as someone who does have an Arabic sounding name,” Zunes continued. “He is the US citizen; he apparently is an employee of this agency,” he said.
‘Huge desire to blame entire Muslim community is outrageous’
Laura Wells, a freelance American journalist, said that “this sort of mass killing has happened more in the US than in other countries,” even given the “horrible tragedy that happened recently in Paris.”
“We need to look at our system,” Wells suggests. She argues that the US doesn’t “have an appropriate kind of gun registration that is needed.”
“Why do people have automatic weapons that can kill so many people in seconds?” she questioned.
Wells compared gun ownership with driving license: “We also have a right to drive cars, and we register them and we’re licensed... You don’t just get a car without having a license and without car being registered.”
According to the journalist, “the desire to want to blame the Islamic community, Middle Easterners, is huge. Anything is used as an excuse to do that.”
“To blame that entire group is pretty outrageous, and it is used in order to justify the kind of military policy that the US government has had in the Middle East,” she told RT.
“Compare it to the fact that most mass killings have been done by relatively young white males in this country. Do we have a whole manhunt for all the white males? Do we have a general blaming of young white males? No, we don’t,” Wells continued.
“This country rather than take responsibility for the laws that we have that don’t work, like incarceration laws, like the death penalty, like the 50 percent of our budget being for the military,” wants “to blame people who are outside, who are in the Middle East, who are coming from south of our borders.”
‘Some groups oppose banning even terrorists from buying firearms’
Brian Levin, from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism said that 243 of the people who are on the US terror watch list have been able to buy weapons on US territory over the last decade.
“I testified before Congress just over a month ago, and what I said is: with regard to terrorism and mass violence... we have such a diversity here in this country that includes individual loners or small groups who have got their own angers and hatreds,” Brian Levin told RT.
According to the expert, the real problem of the US is “the availability of firearms coupled with a very big country,” where citizens are “splintered”.
“We have angry people – whether it is for personal revenge reasons, or for some ideological reason, or some sociological reason - who have access to firearms,” he continued.
Levin argues that there is couple of reasons why it is hard to solve the problem of the gun control in the US. “One - politically it is very difficult; number two: the Second Amendment allows some kind of gun ownership.”
“The US Supreme Court in 2008, in the case called Heller, held that there is a personal right to own firearms, at least hand guns in the home. With respect to that, there seems to be a constitutional block to some kind of broad abolition of firearms,” he told RT.
Levin said that groups like National Rifle Association (NRA) even oppose “banning people on [US] terror watch list from being able to buy firearms, and 243 of them have done it over the last decade or so.“
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.