ShareThis Page

Heyl: Open borders invite foreigners to steal thunder of our mass murderers

| Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, 10:54 p.m.

Take in the welcome mat.

Gov. Tom Wolf and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto are facing a firestorm of criticism for continuing to support the idea of allowing Syrian refugees to settle in Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh. The welcome mat remains out despite last week's terrorist attacks in Paris that left 129 people dead.

The shootings and suicide bombing were the work of ISIS, which is Syria-based and loathes the United States. Most Syrian refugees probably don't embrace ISIS tactics (otherwise, why leave Syria?), but it's conceivable ISIS devotees might be embedded with the émigrés.

Wolf and Peduto deserve the denigration they're receiving for discounting that possibility. They want to open the borders to potential foreign mass murderers who might steal headlines and victims from hard-working American mass murderers.

I'm talking about those who have labored tirelessly to turn movie theaters, churches, college campuses and elementary school classrooms into blood-spattered battlegrounds — sometimes for twisted ideological reasons, sometimes merely because they're insane.

I'm talking about people such as Chris Harper Mercer, who allegedly killed 10 people last month at Umpqua Community College in Oregon; Dylann Roof, suspected of massacring eight worshippers at a South Carolina church in June; and David Conley, a Houston man who police say gunned down eight people — including his son — in August.

Their efforts and those of others have been overshadowed by the homicidal grandstanding of upstart ISIS fanatics. The gargantuan number of victims in the France attacks is obscuring once again the fact that the United States has, by far, the world's greatest number of mass shootings.

Researchers Jaclyn Schildkraut and H. Jaymi Elsass of the State University of New York in Oswego and Texas State University, respectively, recently studied mass shooting incidents in 11 countries from 2000 to 2014.

What they found is that the United States had more mass shootings during that period — 133, in which 487 people were killed and 505 wounded — than Australia, Canada, China, England, Finland, France, Germany, Mexico, Norway and Switzerland combined.

When such violence happens in France, we recoil in revulsion and furiously debate immigration policy.

When it happens here, we are horrified for a few hours and debate gun control laws for a few days. Then the discussion moves on to matters of greater societal significance: What's the over-under on how many porn actresses Charlie Sheen might have infected with HIV?

There's an obvious disconnect that Wolf and Peduto are promulgating by keeping the spotlight focused on Syria. The governor and the mayor should immediately remove the welcome mat from the porch.

Then perhaps discussion would rightly focus not on the foreign mass murderers who might infiltrate our borders, but on the native ones who have struck within them.

And on the inevitable attacks to come.

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or eheyl@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.