I occasionally like to go off-topic and cover subjects or events outside of LA or California politics and government.
This week, I am compelled to do so.
The ISIL-inspired act of terrorism in San Bernardino, a city that can be considered part of the greater metropolitan area of Los Angeles, within commuting distance of downtown, would make any other topic an escape from reality.
The loss of life and injuries cannot be described in any more words than have already be written and said. I cannot begin to express my sadness and anger over the senseless murder of innocent people in the name of an ideology.
Instead, I’d rather focus on what events such as this exposes about us.
Our nation has been steadily transformed into a partisan society, conceptually not too different from the sectarian rivalry evident in the Middle East. Whether political or religious in nature, irreconcilable conflict is poison.
One only needs to follow sound bytes, Facebook posts and tweets from political leaders, and the people who elect them, concerning the string of mass murders in recent years to understand we are heading for our own version of destructive dysfunction.
Executions, like the event in San Bernardino, have riled up the pro-gun segment. After all, its supporters claim, it is terrorism or mental illness and not assault weapons responsible for the carnage. Ultra-liberals are in denial over the danger of radical Islam. Even our president cannot form the words to acknowledge its culpability. Neither side recognizes the merits of the others’ arguments.
The fact of the matter is, we allow the sale of military style weapons to almost anyone in the name of the Second Amendment. We also permit too many to enter this country from regions where twisted fundamentalism thrives .
We should no more allow the sale of powerful weapons to the public than we should permit entry to this country in numbers too great to properly vet.
Serious gun control is needed now. Mere possession or sale of assault or any semi-automatic weapons should be declared grounds for possible criminal prosecution. A period of amnesty should be granted for all to turn in these weapons – even reimbursing the owners who can provide proof of purchase; otherwise, allow them to surrender the weapons anonymously.
Likewise, all applicants for entry into the United States for any form of long-term stay need to be investigated in a manner that digs below the surface. It is apparent that the current background checks are not enough.
Civil records, if they are available, don’t begin to tell the whole tale. An applicant for admission could be squeaky clean on the surface, with no traceable ties to militants. But it’s what in their hearts and minds that counts just as much. Persons who find liberal society a threat to their values are ticking time bombs who can be swayed by radical elements to create mayhem down the road. Sophisticated questioning by FBI-trained personnel, including the use of polygraph tests, must be employed to uncover possible anti-Western leanings.
That could add months to the already long process refugees face, but we owe it to all of us living here.
The United States should be a country that assists those who need protection from despots and persecution, but they must prove themselves worthy of our trust and be in alignment with the facets of an open, liberal society.
We are not obligated to allow anyone the privilege of residency; we are obligated to protect those who are here.