Belfast Telegraph

Blood will flow until America clamps down on hate-filled people with easy access to mass-killing weapons

By Lindy McDowell

Often when you read reports following the now all-too-common mass-murder gun attacks in America, you're swept not just with sorrow for the families of the victims, but with pity too for the shocked and distressed relatives of the perpetrators. How awful to be, say, the parent of someone who commits such horrific acts.

I think we can spare our sympathy though, for the father of Omar Mateen, the monster who murdered 49 young people in an Orlando nightclub, injured over 50 others and ripped apart countless lives forever.

Seddique Mateen insists that his "normal" son wasn't radicalised. A claim that would seem to be at odds with Omar's 911 call to state that he was doing it for Isis.

The father also made a point of "explaining" how Omar had been enraged when he once saw a couple of men kissing in Miami.

Observing a simple gesture of affection between two other human beings is enough to ... what? Drive you to mass murder?

He goes on to say he doesn't think his son should have carried out the attack because, to use his twisted terminology "homosexuals will be punished by God".

Sick Seddique is not alone with his poisoned and poisonous response. Reports from elsewhere in America and Europe have highlighted some of the bile that's been spewed from various sources - an ancient TV evangelist, a Turkish newspaper among them - in the aftermath of the atrocity.

Let's not even dignify their comments by repeating them here. But that sort of venom is a reminder of the hate (let's call it for what it is) that so many LGBT people all over the world still face today. Even in the seemingly liberal-thinking Land of the Free.

American politicians assert this was an attack upon us all. Maybe so. But Orlando was primarily an attack on the gay community. Watching a sobbing mother cry out for her lost son outside the Pulse nightclub would rip the heart out of anybody. Reading the last text of that poor, doomed lad called Eddie; "I'm gonna die, Momma" is unbearable.

But what must it be like to fear for your child on a daily level, fear that he or she might be targeted simple because of their sexual orientation?

It is unimaginable.

What is imaginable, though, what should have been foreseen by the authorities anyway, is that such a large scale massacre as the Orlando attack was a possibility.

Omar Mateen was seen as a terror threat but was still able to access the sort of heavy duty weaponry usually associated with the military.

The AR 15 rifle, which can fire around 30 bullets a minute, was originally made by Armalite - a brand name with all-too-dark resonance in this part of the world.

To check it out, I go on to a weapons website and one of the first lines that catches my eye is a banner about 'Armalite clearance - buy now!'

Online and in a store near you in the US, guns and a colossal range of high velocity weaponry is being marketed as breezily as toasters or dishwashers.

Checks that are supposed to keep such armaments out of the hands of the mad, the bad, the hate-filled and the radicalised (and Omar Mateen ticked all boxes) fail yet again.

From Orlando there are lessons for America on every level about the need to clamp down on those who spout and promote hatred, to protect and support vulnerable communities and to instigate real gun control which, however late, however resisted by the powerful, obnoxious National Rifle Association, might save innocent lives.

Yet Donald Trump thinks otherwise. The answer, Trump argues, isn't less guns but more. He wants the entire nation tooled up. This plays well to the NRA lobby with its vast, malign electoral clout.

And thus powerful players - political and arms industry - scratch each other's backs.

But meanwhile on the streets, more bloods flows. And America's much-vaunted "right to bear arms" continues to facilitate the mass murder of its own sons and daughters.

Sophie hits right note with 'mum tum' views

Sophie Ellis-Bextor who has four sons, one of whom was born just seven months ago, also has what's known in the business as a "mum tum".

The other day she admits, someone asked her if she was pregnant. She describes this as "obviously not thrilling".

But is she really bovvered? Unusually for a celeb, not really. "I've had four kids," she says. "I don't have a flat tummy. This is okay." More than okay actually. Refreshingly upbeat and honest. And realistic.

Irish fans show true side of beautiful game

A photograph from France shows a Northern Ireland fan in the back of an ambulance holding the hand and comforting a Polish fan injured in an attack by French thugs. Scenes from the Republic's game against Sweden show fans there and down at Belfast Titanic quarter they take part in a respectful minute's applause in memory of young Darren Rodgers (left) tragically killed in an accident in Nice. Sometimes football really is a beautiful game.

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