By far the most talked-about subject at tonight's Republican debate was national security—and specifically the threat that terrorism poses thereto. It was a reasonable subject to discuss given the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, and the downing of the Russian Metrojet plane in Egypt; it seems entirely possible that ISIS will try to carry out more random mass murders in the U.S., and the next president will be responsible for making sure that doesn’t happen.
But what about the other types of individuals who perpetrate terrifying high-profile shootings, acts of political terror, and mass murders of strangers in the United States? Roughly speaking, you could put those people into two categories: white men with extreme right-wing political motivations and men with mental problems or personal grudges. (Obviously those categories can overlap.) Here are some of the recent attacks in the United States carried out by such non-jihadi individuals:
- Nov. 27: Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, three killed
- Oct. 1: Umpqua Community College in Oregon, nine killed
- Aug. 26: Roanoke, Virginia, two killed on live television
- July 23: Movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, two killed
- June 17: Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, nine killed
Going further back, of course, you have the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater massacre; the Washington Navy Yard massacre; the Newtown, Connecticut massacre; the attack that injured Gabby Giffords; and many, many, many, many more, all the way to Columbine and Oklahoma City.
Here’s the list of attacks perpetrated by white American extremists or disturbed non-Muslim American men that Republican candidates discussed tonight:
And the list of candidates who suggested ways that such attacks might be prevented in the future:
Every presidential candidate likes to say that the president's first job is “keeping America safe.” But regardless of what specific policies on guns or mental health you favor to help prevent the kinds of incidents listed above, what possible definition of “keeping Americans safe” does not address the epidemic of mass murders in this country that have nothing to do with jihadism?