I was shaken when the aircraft slammed into the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001. It thrust the world into a unknown state. Were more big attacks coming? What was our reaction going to be? Was it going to dramatically alter our well-being and lifestyle? What was it going to take for New York to recover? And, yeah, I felt bad for the dead and their families and friends.
I no longer feel bad for the dead from mass shootings (and the families and friends). That's at least partly because I've been desensitized. And partly because, well, I don't have time to feel bad for everyone that dies.
Approximately 7,000 people die in the United States each day from all causes. Each day, several dozen people are murdered. Twice as many are wounded from attempted murder each day.
Forty-nine people were killed in a nightclub in Orlando. I don't have it in me to feel more for them than the other 7,000 people who died that day or the other dozens of anonymous people who were murdered across the country that day. The dead in Orlando don't feel more special to me. I don't know why I don't feel more since they apparently do feel more special to virtually everybody else in the entire country.
It's interesting to look at the reactions of others from my detached state. The two big hot button issues that were pressed by the Orlando shooting are the role of Islam in events such as these and the role of gun control or the lack thereof.
Within seconds (maybe minutes) of the news breaking, people began to use the event to further their agendas in these areas. Others were saying things like, "how can you use a tragedy like this to further a political agenda?" My response is that there's no better time. If you have a weak or subjective position, using a time when people are all upset and emotional is by far the best time to advance your agenda because they're not thinking straight.
Let's start with guns and gun control. On one hand, the guy put a lot of bullets into a lot of people with a gun, so those in favor of control can use this incident to claim that gun control is critically important. And if we refuse to get rid of all guns and bullets, then let's at least get rid of those particularly scary looking guns like the AR-15 that was used at the Orlando nightclub. And after such an incident is a really great time to make such an argument because objectively, it makes no sense whatsoever; consider the following table (via Marginal Revolution):
Only 248 of 11,961 murders were perpetrated using rifles (plus some fraction of "type not stated") and that includes "assault" rifles like the AR-15. Banning assault rifles will simply make no noticeable difference at all in the number of gun murders and it's a foolish thing to focus on if reducing murder is the goal. But if banning AR-15s is your thing, then using this incident and people's emotional response is a really good idea.
On the other side (the anti-gun control side), we have people noting that the nightclub was a gun free zone. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that having drinking establishments be "gun-free" might actually be a good idea since people don't always make the best decisions when drunk and some people are quite violent under the influence. Some have suggested the compromise that non-drinking folks should be allowed to carry in drinking establishments and that seems at least a little more reasonable to me. Yet it's not clear it would've made much of a difference. There was an armed security guard at the nightclub and he didn't even slow the gunman down. These things are going to continue to happen and there's not much that can be done to stop them.
Now, onto Islam. Omar Mateen was crazy, completely deranged, totally nuts. To me, that's the fundamental explanation of why he did the totally insane thing of shooting up a nightclub. To claim this was caused by Islam seems misguided to me. To claim that restricting immigration would prevent stuff like this is even weaker given that he was a U.S. born citizen. At best, restricting immigration now might prevent something like this in several decades.
On the other hand, I don't think Islam is quite completely free of culpability.
It is true that vast swaths of Christianity are at least uncomfortable with homosexuality. And it's also true that some christian clergy in the United States have called for killing homosexuals. But there are more than a half-million clergy in the United States and only a tiny handful are that extreme and out of a half-million people some are statistically going to be crazy. The rest of those uncomfortable with homosexuality are more the "hate the sin, love the sinner" types or at least don't go around calling for the execution of gays.
Compare that to the fact that 100 million people live in Muslim countries where homosexuality is punishable by death. In other words, killing gays is simply much more mainstream in the Muslim world than in countries that are predominantly Christian.
So if you're a deranged lunatic who happens to be Muslim, the voices whispering in your head from all over the world are kinda gonna be egging you on to kill gay people instead of holding you back. That's a problem, perhaps one with no solution, but I can't ignore the fact that people immigrating from those countries have been exposed to and grown up in an environment that I consider to be relatively barbaric. I don't find that thought to be comforting.