Colorado Springs Shooting: An Act Of Domestic Terrorism

Friday’s attack on Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs highlights the ever-growing problem that anti-gun control advocates continually ignore: domestic terrorism is wreaking havoc on our nation, and for what purpose? Forget the concern about Syrian refugees being secret ISIS operatives. The United States has plenty of its own domestic terrorism within its borders.

A 57-year-old suspect, Robert Lewis Dear, managed to kill three people after storming a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs on Friday. One of those killed was a six-year veteran of University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Campus Police, officer Garrett Swasey.

Initial reports describe the gun Dear used as a long gun or rifle. MSNBC, however, describes it as an AK-47, which is military-grade weaponry. This is the one of the few major news outlet thus far describing the domestic terrorist’s gun specifically. All that is known for sure is that he used a long gun to kill three people.

Dear reportedly uttered, “No more baby parts,”after he was arrested; a reference to the now debunked videos depicting Planned Parenthood as selling fetal organs for a profit. Even the Center for Medical Progress, the anti-abortion group responsible for circulating the video, has since admitted that the videos were manipulated to create a controversy.

If this is true, and if Robert Lewis Dear was influenced by these videos, the Center for Medical Progress may be directly responsible for the tragic loss of three lives.

Despite the heinous nature of the crime, pro-life anti-abortion folks lit up their Twitter feeds, praising Robert Lewis Dear’s act of domestic terrorism. None of them described him as a terrorist, yet his actions fit the technical definition of terrorism. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation defines domestic terrorism quite clearly.

“Domestic terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:

  1. Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law.
  2. Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.
  3. Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.

By the FBI’s own definition, Robert Lewis Dear is a domestic terrorist, and should be treated as such.

One Twitter user described the shooter as a hero saving babies’ lives, ignoring the fact that three adult humans were left dead in the end.

The rift between political parties and the ideologues on either side of the debate has become so wide, that it’s hard to not to notice. All three Democratic presidential candidates expressed their condolences for the victims in the Colorado Springs shooting. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is thus far the only GOP candidate to have even acknowledged the shooting, and he waited until Saturday, after the suspect was in custody.

Front runner Donald Trump has merely focused his attention on polls and calling out CNN and the New York Times for stories he disagrees with. He hasn’t said one word about the recent gun violence. Dr. Ben Carson has a better excuse for not expressing sympathies to the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting victims: He’s been in Jordan visiting a Syrian refugee camp with wife his Candy, so he may have been out of the loop regarding the shooting.

Why the radio silence for the GOP? Why have virtually none of them (with the exception of Cruz) addressed the multifaceted issue of domestic terrorism, poor mental health care, and ridiculously lax gun laws? The modus operandus of the NRA and conservatives in general when these types of shooting occur is to ignore it and hope the problem goes away. And when the problem doesn’t just go away quietly, they bring circle the wagons and scream, “Second Amendment!” until the media finds another topic to focus on.

Even worse than silence, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) went on the air live and criticized Planned Parenthood while the organization was still experiencing an active gunfire situation. In his tirade he included the long-debunked fetal organs videos as a reason to vilify it. His hate-filled rhetoric held nothing for those under siege, and he completely ignored everything else. He ignored the death, he ignored the violence. He ignored what was clearly a domestic terrorism situation in favor of blaming the victims.

Early Saturday morning, President Obama expressed the frustration of an entire nation at odds with the behemoth gun industry.

“Enough is enough.”

Domestic terrorism must end, and the only way make get it under control is to improve the nation’s mental health care system, make it more difficult for those with known mental health issues and past run-ins with the law to acquire guns, and to hold anyone accountable for giving or selling a gun to someone they know is not legally permitted to own one. Then, and only then, can this country even begin to address the mounting problem of gun violence and domestic terrorism.

[Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images]