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From El Paso to San Bernardino

Comparing responses to mass shootings in Texas and California

By Lloyd Billingsley, August 6, 2019 7:22 am

The mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday left 22 dead and more than two dozen wounded. While the carnage was still being sorted out, prominent Democrats began to unload on President Trump.

“He is a racist, and he stokes racism in this country,” presidential candidate Robert Francis O’Rourke, told reporters in El Paso. In similar style, for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar “I do think Trump’s rhetoric has fueled more hate in this country.”

Sen. Cory Booker and Ohio congressman Tim Ryan have since joined the chorus of Democrat 2020 presidential hopefuls who are blaming the violence on Trump’s rhetoric and inaction on gun control. That response invites a look back at the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, in December of 2015.

Jihadists Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik murdered 14 people and wounded 22 an office party at the Inland Regional social services centerBringing Calm to Chaos: A Police Foundation Review of the San Bernardino Terrorist Attacks provides a chilling description by those on the scene.

“Out of the blue, multiple popping sounds crackled outside,” the report says. “Several of the county workers thought fireworks had been lit, but others recognized the sound as gunfire.” The burst claimed two victims, then the terrorists headed inside, to a room decorated for a holiday party.

“Suddenly, a door swung open and a person clad in all black, with a mask shielding his or her face, stepped inside, wielding what appeared to be an automatic rifle. Without saying a word, the person, now believed to be Rizwan Farook opened fire.” Then Tashfeen Malik followed. “She also wore all black and entered the room shooting. Together, the shooters fired more than 100 rounds.” 

In the ensuing chase, Farook and Malik fired 81 rounds at police, wounding one officer, who remained in the fight as another officer dressed his wounds. Police took down the pair with little collateral damage. Inside the terrorists’ SUV, police found “an additional 1,879 rounds of .223 ammunition and another 484 rounds of 9-mm ammunition.” Police also found a “trigger apparatus to detonate the secondary devices” at the Regional Center, a reference to bombs intended to increase the death toll among the first responders.

California Gov. Jerry Brown called the mass shooting a “terrorist attack” and declared a state of emergency. “The people who are committed to this jihadist doctrine are going to be killing people in very unexpected places.” Brown said,  “and I’m going to be spending some time making sure that our federal-state collaboration really is working and that our own threat-assessment centers are adequately staffed and led to get the job done.”

By all indications, nobody blamed the attack on rhetoric by President Obama, who in 2009 had proclaimed Nidal Hasan’s murder of 13 American soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, a case of “workplace violence,” not even gun violence. The president had also refused to link Islam with terrorism, but that did not emerge in the wake of the San Bernardino attack. With President Trump after El Paso, the standard appears to be different.

At this writing, the El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, shootings have claimed 31 victims. On October 1, 2017, Stephen Paddock gunned down 58 in Las Vegas. For all the horror and carnage, these were not worst mass shootings ever to take place in North America.

On October 2, 1968, Mexican soldiers and police gunned down hundreds of unarmed students,  peacefully protesting in advance of the Olympics. Those responsible for the atrocity were never brought to justice and the coverup continues to this day.

Lloyd Billingsley

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Sexual Terrorist, about the Golden State Killer, and A Shut and Open Case, about a California murder trial prolonged by Proposition 57 and recent legislation. Lloyd is a fellow with the Independent Institute and his work has appeared in the Daily Caller, City Journal, Orange County Register, Wall Street Journal and many other publications. Bill of Writes: Dispatches from the Political Correctness Battlefield is a collection of his journalism.

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