Post-9/11, the emphasis has been to profile brown suspects.  Those with Muslim roots were viewed more likely to commit terror on US soil.

Yet, much of the mayhem done in American mass shootings has been inflicted by white perpetrators.  The September 16 atrocity at the Washington Naval Yard was by a black American. 

The color of terror is not black, white, or brown.  It is gray.

Significantly, when home-grown shooters are on a killing spree, the term “terrorism” is eschewed in mainstream forums.

The most authoritative modern dictionary in the United States is Webster’s New World College Dictionary.  It is the official dictionary of the Associated Press and is used and cited by the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, as well as by other newspapers.  It describes “terror/terrorism” as “causing intense fear; the use of force to subjugate, intimidate, coerce then by filling with terror, as by the use or threat of violence.”

Are shooting victims in America less terrified to know that the killer was an American like them?

Dr Janis Orlowski, medical head of Washington Hospital Center, where the injured from the Naval facility shootings were brought, was refreshingly explicit when she said, “There is evil in our society that we Americans have to eradicate.”

Mass murders have become a routine and familiar feature of American life.

There is little likelihood of the US Congress confronting the National Rifle Association – the premier pro-gun lobby, once headed by actor Charlton Heston of Ben-Hur fame.  It made little difference even when John Hinckley nearly killed President Reagan with a pistol shot outside the Washington Hilton in 1981. 

In 2012 alone, there were nearly 9,000 gun-related homicides in the US.  The streets of Chicago have been ripped apart by rampant gang warfare, leading to 500 murders last year.  There is no let up in killings in 2013.  Top pastor Rick Warren decried how easy it was for his mentally disturbed son to buy his gun on the Internet, which he then used to kill himself.

Moral discipline has plummeted. The American public has yet to seriously step back, pause, and reflect how much the existing culture itself provides grist to domestic terror.  There is a lassitude in American attitude. Broken and fatherless households, coupled with privacy laws that create barriers in monitoring and helping disturbed individuals, have left a mounting debris of social isolation and desperation. Those with mental health problems then become increasingly prone to desperate acts.  And they are preyed upon by a permissive culture, which provides them with lethal means.

Yet, if the perpetrator had been a Muslim, all Hell would have broken loose. 

The second amendment to the US Constitution, which permits qualified owning of firearms, has been grossly abused to block gun control. Congress remains in thrall to the gun lobby.

Whether here, or elsewhere around the world, the blind spot of denial in human nature makes it more convenient to blame “foreign devils” while exempting oneself from scrutiny. Killers on the rampage shall remain unchallenged everywhere unless state and society muster greater will than the killer’s will to kill.

The writer is an attorney-at-law and policy analyst based in Washington DC. He is the first Pakistani American member admitted to the US Supreme Court Bar.