By: Peter Suciu
Last month, freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) summarized the September 11, 2001 terror attacks – in which nearly 3,000 innocent people lost their lives – as an event in which “some people did something.” Omar made this controversial statement while speaking at a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) fundraising event.
She was quickly called out for trivializing the terrorist attacks, but others rushed to defend her, saying her statement, in context, was accurate.
Let's review the entire statement, quoted here in full: “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something, and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”
Before diving into the problem with Rep. Omar's comment it is necessary to call out the Congresswomen for misstating a key fact. CAIR was actually founded in June 1994 – seven years before the 9/11 attacks. It is true that the group increased its advocacy work after the September 11 attacks, and it is also true that many Americans of the Islamic faith were subjected to undue discrimination, profiling, and harassment.
But Rep. Omar should be reminded that all Americans were subjected to increased scrutiny –which included heightened airport security, among other measures, the goal of which wasn’t to target Muslims, but to ensure that a similar attack wouldn’t happen again.
As someone who lived in New York City at the time, and whose wife was actually running across the street when the second plane hit the World Trade Center, I find it insulting that anyone – but especially an elected official – would dismiss the attacks on 9/11 as a "some people did something."
What is important to note, too, is that Omar’s speech came just a week after the mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand in which at least 50 people were killed. In her speech, Omar added, "So we are coming off a tragic, tragic nightmare that has happened to Muslims in New Zealand. Many of us know that this is not a one-off incident."
So let’s flip this narrative: How would the Congresswomen feel if someone were to make a similar remark regarding those who commit mass shootings?
Does the Congresswomen care that law-abiding gun owners in New Zealand must surrender their semi-automatic firearms because one man “did something” in one isolated event?
In the case of the New Zealand attack, it should be noted that the shooter isn't even a New Zealand citizen. He is Australian.
For the record, the 9/11 hijackers were not American citizens, and it is unfortunate that some Muslim-Americans were subjected to discrimination because of the unspeakable actions that occurred that sad day. But in many ways the average New Zealand gun owner is suffering because of the actions of the one person who did "something." Their civil liberties are literally – and physically – being taken away and there is no group stepping up to champion their cause.
The truth is that many of Rep. Omar's colleagues see mass shootings by crazed individuals as an excuse to disarm the generally innocent populace.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) recently announced that he will be running for president in 2020 and is making "gun violence" a focus of his campaign. He has proposed a ban on and a federal buyback of the millions of what he calls "military-style assault weapons" – including the AR-15.
In 2013, Swalwell co-sponsored a bill to ban such firearms and has called for background checks on gun purchases, arguing gun control will prevent gang violence – as if gang members care about acquiring their guns legally.
These calls for gun buybacks come as Omar, Swalwell, and others in their ranks show concern for "rights" of the migrants who attempt to cross the border illegally and call for reduced prison sentences for those who broke the law for drug possession. Their viewpoints show a disdain for the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens on multiple levels.
I am one of those law-abiding citizens, and I am saddened by mass shootings. I remain deeply upset that anyone would take an innocent's person life for any reason, but especially when it is done in such a cowardly way.
But taking away firearms isn't the answer. Simply put, "One person did something and now all law-abiding gun owners face losing their civil liberties."
Peter Suciu is a freelance writer based in Michigan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.