As I write a question mark is warranted because certain details are unusual this time. The media seem fairly certain, based on witness statements, that this was a group attack by up to three masked men. The most unusual detail is that the shooters have made a getaway and are at large with few clues to their whereabouts. It's too soon to tell whether they meant to make any sort of statement by shooting up the Inland Regional Center, a social-service facility for disabled people. The latest word from investigators is that fourteen people are dead, fourteen more wounded. Most of us are waiting to narrow down the list of whom to blame, possibly to the level of individuals, perhaps to the level of groups. But why wait? Unless these killers prove to be foreigners, we can take care of this by analogy. If Islam is to blame when Islamic terrorists kill, then when American gunmen kill, America is to blame. Watch this space for updates.
Update: Two of three suspects, one female, were shot down on the road, and the third apparently has been taken alive. Bad news for civil libertarians: at least one of the suspects is a Muslim, though the exact motive for the attack remains unclear. But even if the attackers had no specific Islamic agenda this incident will only reinforce a stereotype of Muslim violence for which a nonviolent majority of American Muslims will be held to account. It would have seemed more fair to hold an entire category of "gun nut" to account, had the killers been generic Americans, than it would be to hold all Muslims to account for Muslim violence, if only because gun nuttery is even more implicitly violent than people assume Islam to be. But why split hairs? Were these people any less gun nuts because one or more of them were Muslim? Is Islam somehow a worse motive for gun violence than anything our Christians or atheists come up with? Focusing on Islam would be taking our eyes off the ball even if the San Bernardino shooters were full-fledged ISIS acolytes. After all, Americans have done quite well at mass murder without Islam to inspire or provoke them. The solution to American gun violence will be the solution to American Muslim gun violence as well.