What does it take?

Update

When this blog was published yesterday I included discussion on the act not fitting the definition of terrorism and called for a expanded definition of terrorism to include acts such as the Nevada attack. It turns out, however, Nevada is ahead of the curve. Thanks to a twitter user, we now know the Nevada statute on terrorism already inlcudes acts such as yesterday’s attack under the umbrella of terrorism.

According to NV LAW, Stephen Paddock is a terrorist#vegas #shooting pic.twitter.com/uenQcfLVkN

— Demetria Obilor (@DemetriaObilor) October 2, 2017

I”m leaving the post unaltered below, both as evidence of my own misunderstanding and to remain as a call to see this definition changed at all levels of law enforcement. Now we need residents of Nevada to call their state representatives and ask why the statue is not being applied. We also need reporters to press this question during briefings. According to Nevada statute this is terrorism, and it needs to be called that.

The first thing I do in the morning is to open up a Bible app and do my morning Bible reading. It was a Lenten discipline I added a few years ago which has stuck with me

This does not, however, keep me from seeing the notifications on the screen when I first wake my tablet up. So this morning the first thing I did with my electronics was read the notification describing the horrific attack at a music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.

If you would like to verify this claim for yourself, and you should, follow this link to the appropriate statute.

The Actual Post

I’ve been pondering how to respond to this news, and have come up with two thoughts on how our culture could move forward from this point.

The NRA needs to go away

I remember when the NRA used to be the people who were all about gun safety. They were the people who produced the materials which instilled a proper fear of these tools in those who would use them 1. Then things got messed up and the NRA became a Second Amendment lobbying group all in favor of large magazines and assault weapons.

I grew up around hunters. I have no problem with people wanting to own hunting rifles. I also, while philosophically opposed to the concept, am fine with people wanting to own hand guns for protection 2. But the NRA’s insistence on the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun is both insane and irresponsible. It’s time for them to shutter their lobbying efforts and go back to gun safety, which is what they were good at.

Gun show loop holes need to be closed. A national gun registry is needed. Training needs to be mandated 3, and assault rifles and large magazines should not be allowed on our streets. This is a common sense response to a public crisis.

I’m not trading freedom for security. I’m saying one the Constitution’s stated goals to “ensure domestic Tranquility,” reveals there’s a disconnect somewhere between it and the NRA’s interpretation of the Second Amendment. Our Constutional freedoms are meant to help establish “domestic Tranquility,” not be used to destroy it. It’s time to get the wires connected once more.

We need to talk about terrorism

There’s been a lot of shouting that the perpetrator of this act hasn’t been called a terrorist “because he’s a white guy.” But this isn’t the case. The reason why people are so quick to shout this is because our society has shown a profound ability to white-wash white domestic terrorists in the past. The vehicular attack in Charlottesville a few months ago being only the most recent example 4. But, because there doesn’t appear to be an ethnic or political motivation, this act doesn’t fall under the current legal definition of terrorism.

Do I believe legal definition need to be expanded to include any deliberate mass-casualty attack? Absolutely. Does the current legal definition of terrorism give white guys more wriggle room to escape being labeled terrorists, thanks to our cultural legacy? Yes, and that’s one reason why we need to work to change the definition 5. But right now twitter mobbing about authorities, who are bound to the current legal definition, not calling it a terrorist attack is akin to shouting at a brick wall. I guess if feels good having our voices bounce back in our faces, but in the end it doesn’t open avenues which flow in the direction we need to travel.

That’s the conversation I want to have with my representatives in Congress. I want this legal definition expanded until all such attacks are recognized by the fruit of their labor 6, regardless of motivation. Because unleashing the carnage of a fully automatic weapon upon a defenseless crowd isn’t automatically considered “terrorism,” but it darn well should be.


  1. Especially children. 
  2. Provided they can pass rigorous training certifications which include time on a range and threat awareness. If you want to own a firearm for protection you should be willing to pay to have that dangerous tool in your possession. 
  3. Remember the whole “well-organized militia” idea? 
  4. And anyone remember the gun-toting militia takeover of a National Parks facility? Yah, that wasn’t called terrorism either. 
  5. The other being it’s a mass-casualty attack, and splitting legal hairs over a perpetrator’s wider motivation in the face of that reality is making less sense with every subsequent attack. Also, how sad is the end of that last sentence? 
  6. People are being terrorized 

2 Comments

Add yours →

  1. I’m right there with you, brother, on every single point – saving one. I am consistently wary of “National Registries” not just because it may be a violation of the 4th Amendment, but because as a political animal the government of the U.S. could easily exploit a registry of this kind. I think fairly consistently of the “Terrorism Watch List” which has ensnared a number of perfectly innocent U.S. citizens who have to go to extreme lengths to be removed from it. So, just from a “not trusting the government as the benevolent benefactor of the American citizen” angle, I’m wary of lists.

    • I can understand that. But back when this was about a Militia people were required to be enrolled and register what type of weapon they had. So maybe local registers which can be shared upon request?

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