A toxic mix ignites again

Vigils and makeshift memorials will dot the country today as Americans try to reckon with the worst mass shooting in the nation’s history.

But such expressions of unity and concern will mean little in the end — and will be take place again and again in coming months and years — without some coming to terms with the country’s incredibly lax gun laws. That is a big theme being advanced today by those who say the US is in a perpetual state of denial about the link between the availability of high-powered weaponry and the mass shootings that have become a regular backdrop to life in America. A Globe editorial says the AR-15 assault rifle, the weapon used yesterday in Orlando — and purchased legally only days ago by the shooter — as well in the massacre of school children in the Newtown, Connecticut, should be banned from civilian use, along with other similar weapons.

That could well make a difference.

So might have pursuit of different policy in the Middle East, says Roger Cohen in the New York Times, writing that the disaster that allowed Syria to become a ISIS stronghold has been “the greatest foreign policy failure of the Obama administration.

There is no indication that Omar Mateen, the 29-year-old US born killer, was an ISIS operative, despite his 911 call from the Pulse nightclub proclaiming his allegiance to a leader of the Islamic State. The more likely theory at this point is that he was self-radicalized lone wolf. That he targeted a gay nightclub made it an attack on population under threat in many parts of the world, but also an attack on freedom itself, writes Frank Bruni.

As Jeet Heer writes in The New Republic, events like this invariably prompt a “battle of narrative,” as the media tries to turn even the most chaotic of happenings into a coherent story.

”Was the Orlando killer a terrorist with a deep ideological commitment to radical Islam, or a mentally unstable hater with no real ISIS links?” writes Heer. “His ex-wife cited his mental instability, evident in the domestic violence he inflicted on her, while his father said that Mateen was acting out of a deep hatred for LGBT people, and in particular gay men.”

Despite the search for an “all-encompassing cause,” Heer says such events “never have a single cause” and that the various explanations being offered are not mutually exclusive.

Mateen may have found some inspiration in Islamic State ideology, but it took a profoundly twisted mind to carry out what he did. In that, Heer says, he may be part of a long history of disturbed loners who have thought they could turn “their personal turmoil into something grander and more meaningful.” He cites Leon Czolgosz, who assassinated President William McKinley and JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald as examples.

In other words, Heer says, there is nothing simple about yesterday’s slaughter — or about what should be done to prevent repeat events like it. Though he does offer one thought about what would not be helpful.

“The intersection of mental-health problems with political violence has real implications for how the struggle against terrorism should be framed, and for the proper mix of policy responses, writes Heer. “It suggests that heightening the language of ideological conflict—as Donald Trump is doing with his talk of banning Muslims and killing the families of Muslim terrorists—is worse than counter-productive: This sort of inflammatory language is likely to make Islamic State ideology even more attractive to the alienated and troubled.”

–MICHAEL JONAS

 

ORLANDO

A lone gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 more in a massacre at a gay nightclub called Pulse in Orlando. The gunman, who had called 911 to proclaim his allegiance to the Islamic State, was killed by police. (New York Times)

Countries around the world, including a number of Arab and Muslim nations, condemned the Orlando massacre and stood in solidarity with the United States. (Associated Press)

The victims included KJ Morris, a drag dancer with roots in western Massachusetts, and Springfield native Stanley Almodovar. (Masslive)

The ex-wife of shooter Omar Mateen says he was abusive during their brief marriage and showed signs of mental illness. (New York Times)

The National Review, along with most conservative pundits, ties the attack directly to ISIS and says the US needs a long-term strategy to deal with the growing threat.

A New York Times graphic shows what, how, and where the weapons used in the last 16  mass shootings in the country were legally purchased by the attackers.

Peter Gelzinis says Donald Trump is exploiting the Orlando nightclub massacre as only he could do. (Boston Herald)

Former New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang says the assault brought back memories of 10 years ago when four people were hurt during an attack on a gay bar in the city and, 10 months later, when a shooter wearing body armor and carrying an AR-15, the same gun used in Orlando, killed three people and wounded several more when he opened fire in a strip club. (Standard-Times)

BEACON HILL

Rep. Tom Walsh of Peabody urges the Registry of Motor Vehicles to close its problem-plagued branch at the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers and open up shop in his town. (Salem News) A Gloucester Times editorial urges the RMV to keep its branch at the conveniently located mall but fix the problems there.

Should horseback riders be required to wear helmets? (Salem News)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Today’s and yesterday’s Globe have a two-part series on how Roxbury real estate operator Rolando Pam and his two sons have enriched themselves through scores of shady deals, some involving deals with area charities, while never facing criminal charges.

Rev. Eugene Rivers, who will lead the funeral service on Thursday for Raekwon Brown, the 17-year-old student shot to death last week outside Jeremiah Burke High School in Dorchester, says the community must pray for justice and an end to violence. (Boston Globe)

Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia has signed a 10-year agreement to privatize the city’s trash pickup that will save taxpayers about $8.7 million over the life of the contract but result in the layoffs of about two dozen municipal workers. (Herald News)

Another water main burst in Brockton over the weekend as the city’s 150-year-old pipes continue to crumble but officials say it will be a patchwork effort to replace the 33-miles of infrastructure after decades of neglect. (The Enterprise)

ELECTIONS

Sen. Bernie Sanders still won’t concede the nomination to Hillary Clinton despite acknowledging “we know who has received the most votes up to know” and will meet with the presumptive Democratic nominee on Tuesday. (New York Times)

A longtime ally of former governor Bill Weld’s is launching a super PAC to promote the Libertarian Party ticket on which Weld is the vice presidential nominee. (Boston Globe)

Weld, who proclaimed his shift away from his tough-on-crime views of the 80s and 90s in an interview last week, is tracking public opinion with his evolution on the issue, write MassINC Polling Group’s Steve Koczela and Rich Parr. (WBUR)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Brockton has the highest car insurance premiums of any community in the state, according to a new study. (The Enterprise)

General Electric is getting much more aggressive in its talent search as the company turns from an industrial to a digital focus. (Boston Globe)

Microsoft is acquiring LinkedIn in a $26.2 billion cash transaction.

Walgreen’s has severed its ties with Theranos, dealing a critical blow to the embattled firm that was attempting to bring low-cost blood testing to consumers but has had to void thousands of lab results after federal regulators found problems with the procedures. (New York Times)

EDUCATION

UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney promises a transparent master plan laying out the university’s contributions to the city after an earlier deal was kept confidential. (The Sun) Meanwhile, nervous Perkins Park residents mobilize to fight UMass Lowell’s plan to purchase their apartment building and turn it into student housing. (The Sun)

UMass President Marty Meehan has $4.4 million in his campaign account from when he was a congressman. (The Sun)

Laura Perille of EdVestors and Joanna Gerraghty of the JetBlue Foundation say it’s time to bring the real (vocational) world into all classrooms. (CommonWealth)

Jessica Huizenga, the state-appointed receiver for the Southbridge schools, names her management team. (Telegram & Gazette)

TRANSPORTATION

MBTA officials want to outsource operation of the agency’s warehouse operation that provides parts for broken equipment, saying the current setup is failing at every level. It’s one of the first such efforts since suspension of the state’s anti-privatization statute for T. (Boston Globe) CommonWealth recently profiled Gerard Polcari, who was hired to revamp the T’s procurement systems.

Steamship Authority officials say freight service between New Bedford and Martha’s Vineyard to alleviate traffic in Woods Hole is “going to have to happen” after a 15-year void but finding a terminal in New Bedford is difficult. (Cape Cod Times)

Officials at the state-run Boston Convention and Exhibition Center have designated a spot for Uber and Lyft drivers to pick up passengers, even though a House version of pending ride-hailing legislation would ban the services from making pickups at the facility as well as at Logan Airport. (Boston Herald)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Liz Stanton, an energy economist at Synapse Energy Economics, takes Boston Herald writer Holly Robichaud to task for her stance on natural gas. (CommonWealth)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Quincy officials have confirmed that federal officials have launched a criminal probe of a police lieutenant who is suspended for double-dipping for collecting paid details while he was supposed to be on the clock. (Patriot Ledger)