Heyl: Open borders invite foreigners to steal thunder of our mass murderers
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.