Attacks on the LGBT community, easy access to firearms, inadequate resources to combat mental illness, America's growing jitters over ISIS-inspired terrorism—they've all become fodder for speculation in the shadow of the June 12 mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., which left 49 dead and dozens more injured.
Some painted 29-year-old gunman Omar Mateen as severely homophobic, others said he was mentally unstable while ISIS—the so-called Islamic State terrorist group—was quick to claim Mateen as one of its "soldiers." The FBI confirmed that it had interviewed Mateen on at least three occasions but came up with "inconclusive" findings. Nonetheless, Mateen had security and firearm licenses and bought a .223 caliber AR type rifle and 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol as recently as one week before the shooting.
"We know that 91 Americans are killed every day by gun violence. Obviously this incident will push those numbers higher," said Hannah Sharp, spokeswoman for the Idaho chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. "But this is an everyday problem. It's not a sporadic, mass-shooting problem."
Meanwhile, the grief over the deadliest mass shooting in United States history is tangible in every corner of America, including Boise. Boise Democratic Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb broke into tears while addressing an interfaith prayer vigil on the steps of the Idaho Statehouse several hours after the shooting.
"I ask you to keep looking up and calling on that power greater than ourselves," she said, her voice breaking into sobs. "I ask that greater power to stop the violence, to stop the hate."
Fellow Boise Democratic Senator and Boise City Councilwoman Maryanne Jordan agreed that hate, particularly targeting the LGBT community, was at the centerpiece of the violence.
"It's pretty clear that this was a hate crime," Jordan told Boise Weekly at the vigil. "I worry that perhaps this is being portrayed as something else by those who seek to absolve themselves from any responsibility by peddling this kind of hatred for many years."
A few hours later at a separate rally on the steps of the Idaho Statehouse, Boise Rabbi Dan Fink linked the shooting to the same kind of hate that targeted Steven Nelson, a gay Nampa man who was robbed and beaten to death near Lake Lowell in late April.
"To believe that [the Orlando shooting] is unconnected to the death of Steven Nelson right here in our backyard is to be woefully ignorant and, at worst, profoundly evil," said Fink.
Another faith leader, Renee McCall, pastor of Boise's Liberating Spirit Metropolitan Community Church, told rally goers, "I can't find the words to express how my heart hurts. This should not have happened in the United States, but it did."