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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

Once again, the horror of a mass shooting in the United States has been front and centre in the news this past weekend. It appears that up to 50 individuals are dead and over 50 more were wounded by a lone gunman who walked into a nightclub in Orlando, Florida with an assault rifle. The fact that the shooter was Muslim and professing his admiration for Muslim extremist groups does not bode well for that sector of North American society.

There are two parts of this that I wish to comment on this morning. This should not get diverted by the age-old American argument of the right to bear arms. No one in civil society today needs an assault rifle. For a ten year period of time, these things were banned in US society and that should be back on. I am as avid an outdoorsman and hunter as anyone and probably own more firearms than one person really needs to. I can guarantee you there is not and never will be such a weapon in my gun cabinet because there simply is no need for that type of weapon by any individual in a society with the rule of law. We have that rule of law in North America.

I have listened over the last few days to the various talk shows and I am appalled at the number of Canadians that think they should have the right to own this type of weapon and how they would use it to defend their homes. That's what we have the police and the armed forces for - to guard us against internal and external threats. If those folks are not doing the job, then we only need to look at firing their political masters and getting someone elected who will do the job. End of conversation.

The other matter that I wish to touch on in regards to this incident is that we need to impress upon new immigrants to North America that we do have an open and tolerant society that protects people's rights to express their feelings and their personal lifestyles in ways that are not possible in other parts of the world. That openness and tolerance is a result of many decades of struggle by individuals and groups to have these rights protected. Our court systems guarantee these rights.

In many parts of the world and in particular in countries that are ruled by authoritarian governments based on a particular religious tenant certain personal liberties are not allowed. I read one news article quoting the father of the shooter who said his son was incensed because he observed two male individuals kissing each other. It was almost as if this person was trying to make excuses for his son's behaviour as a mass killer and the fact that he had only shot people in a gay and lesbian bar.

In our society we may not personally find that behaviour to our personal liking but we understand that people have the right to live their lives and love one another in their own particular fashion. If you can't handle that openness, then I would suggest you not come here. I would also suggest that we must be very diligent as a society in making sure that we do not allow extremism and hatred to be promoted by any group and allow them to use the cloak of religious freedom to hide behind when disseminating these views.

I know some of you may take me to task over this view but it has proven around the world that this method of spreading extremism has taken place in many countries and that youth have been radicalized using this method. We are paying the price with the lives of our young people and our tax dollars to fight this extremism around the world. The last thing we need is to have it on our own doorstep.

No doubt about it - this was a simple act of terrorism and hatred. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims.

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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.

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