The mass shooting at San Bernardino has left us all reeling. In the hours immediately after the event, most people thought it was another lone shooter. Muslim everywhere were probably heaving a sigh of relief that it wasn’t another terrorist attack. Then the name of the alleged shooter comes through media wires, and we are down the rabbit hole all over again. “Muslim Killers” screams a New York Post headline and suddenly we all forget the most important thing: America has just had yet another mass shooting.

As Muslim Americans worry about the backlash, as brown people everywhere worry for their own safety, gun lobbyists are laughing their way to the bank. When a white person shoots into a crowded building, they are in the hot seat for just a little while as discussions about gun control and the mentally ill circulate the airwaves. But when a Muslim does the same, the media calls it terrorism and the discussion veers towards radicalization and ISIS and everything else “Islamic” with those very big quotation marks.

Don’t get me wrong, when somebody uses guns and IED devises to kill 14 people, when his home is full of pipe bombs, I’m the first one to call him a terrorist. I don’t care whether he’s Muslim or Christian or atheist. If you spread terror, you are a terrorist and you deserve everything you get in this world and the next. But what infuriates me is how easily and quickly the media narrative shifts away from the issue of gun control. And that’s why gun lobbyists love terrorists. They no longer have to answer about why the United States has the highest gun violence rates in the developed world, or why an archaic constitutional amendment is being used to perpetuate and glorify a culture of violence.

The NRA is probably rejoicing that the talking heads on television are no longer asking these tough questions. Instead of gun control experts, we now have terrorism experts filling our screens, and ISIS video clips being shown. It feeds right into election-circuit fear mongering and an otherizing of a certain group of people.

And so, we are once again diverted from the real issue, which is why and how lunatics (religious extremist or mentally ill lone wolves or even abusive husbands) are able to buy guns legally? Why are guns being sold along with groceries at our local Wal-Marts? Who benefits when innocent blood is spilled?

Most importantly, why do we suddenly not care about these questions because the perpetrator is Muslim?

The NRA loves mass shootings for another reason. These sorrowful events, so traumatic to the rest of us, feed into the gun-loving fraud that guns keep us safe. That the solution to violence is more guns, not less. As I write these words, a CNN newscaster talks about how lucky we are that our police is being slowly militarized. There is zero talk about gun control, which is exactly what gun lobbyists want.

So what is the solution? Muslims can have all the press conferences they want, write articles until the sun goes down, protest and condemn and express their condolences as much as possible, but it won’t change the fact that this is a gun issue, not a faith one. When someone buys assault rifles and magazines legally, it doesn’t matter what religion they follow, or what their mental state is.

Let’s be clear, weapons with such terrifying capabilities are not a right, they are a privilege and a dangerous one at that. As Americans, we need to have honest and non-judgmental conversations about the second amendment and what it means to us. Those who speak out against gun ownership shouldn’t be seen as unpatriotic, for they are the true patriots. They want to save our society from violence and terror, mass murder and suicide. It’s the NRA and our politicians who are benefiting from the blood of our children, and it has to stop before we destroy ourselves.

Saadia Faruqi is an interfaith activist, law enforcement trainer and author of the book Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan. Visit her website at www.saadiafaruqi.com or follow her on Twitter @saadiafaruqi


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