Gov. Whitman on Orlando: I support 2nd Amendment, but it's time to look at our gun laws

Orlando was an act of terrorism fueled by hate and easy access to assault weapons.

While we will not know the whole story for weeks, if ever, it appears that the shooting was prompted by the gunman's reaction to seeing two men kissing earlier in the month.  Only at the last minute did he tie himself to the Islamic State.  It is doubtful that this was part of a coordinated effort, but it was surely fueled by the rhetoric of terrorist groups.  

Hate breeds hate and words shape behavior, whether they are used by radical groups or people here at home.

Undoubtedly we will hear criticism of the FBI since they, apparently, had investigated the gunman on at least two occasions prior to the shootings.  However, unless we are willing to completely give up our precious freedom of speech, we have to be careful of how we assess their failings.  

I also suspect that many of those who will now attack government as having failed are the very ones who also trust government the least and want to curtail its ability to act. I doubt they would want to give law enforcement free reign to decide what speech or actions constitute a real threat rather than an expression of frustration with circumstances or policies.

Of course, we cannot speak about this tragedy without addressing the issue of guns.  

From what we know now, the shooter had acquired his automatic weapon legally just days before the shooting. Who, besides law enforcement and the military, really needs a weapon designed for the battlefied?  Really.  

It is time we look a hard look at our gun laws. We can protect the Second Amendment, which I wholeheartedly support, and the right to bear arms in a sane and balanced way.

I am sure that we will be hearing loud calls to ensure that no action is taken to in any way restrict purchases of firearms as a result of this shooting. The saying that "guns don't kill people, people kill people" is technically correct, but people with assault weapons can kill many more people than those with a shotgun or knife.  

As we continue to sift though this tragedy, let us hope that the debate will be robust but thoughtful, detailed but balanced.  

And let's call on those with access to the media to remember: hate breeds hate and words have consequences. May we not have to experience another mass murder to finally make changes in America.

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