Orlando terrorist mass-murderer Omar Mateen was radicalized, pledged loyalty to ISIS, hated gays, watched loads of jihadist propaganda and beheadings online, and railed against Western values. The Democratic Party, in support of whom Mateen registered to vote (this does not make the party, its ideology, or its rhetoric at all responsible for his actions), has chosen to respond to the deadliest terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11 by focusing like a laser beam on demanding gun control and demagoguing Republicans. Senate Democrats actually launched a gun control-themed fundraising push based on the attack. Depressingly, our "national conversation" in the wake of the horrific spree almost immediately devolved into a series of shouting non-sequiturs and pursuits of ideological hobby horses, including restricting sales of the tool Mateen used to murder dozens of Americans. Incidentally, the same sort of tool was totally illegal, yet used anyway, by the terrorists who rampaged through Paris last year.
As we've seen in the past, gun control advocates' proposed legislative "fixes" would not have -- and, in fact, did not -- stop the atrocities that catalyzed these legislative efforts. The Sandy Hook shooter lived in a state with an "assault weapons" ban and stole legally-purchased guns from a family member, whom he murdered. The San Bernardino terrorists acquired their guns through a third party, which was illegal, as were the explosive devices they built. (The improvised bombs used by radical Islamists to murder and maim in Boston were also illegal, of course). The Orlando jihadist passed a background check, and was employed by a security firm that contracts with the Department of Homeland Security. He also did not use an AR-15 in his deadly rampage, a fact that hasn't stopped politicians and media figures from pretending that he did. Another popular talking point is that the Republicans and the NRA are allowing "terrorists" to purchase guns, a terrible "loophole" that would be closed if not for these nihilistic right-wingers. Isn't it common sense to bar people on the no-fly list and the terrorist watch list from obtaining weapons?
Here's the problem with that: Those lists, which are often conflated, rely on secrecy and are riddled with errors. Imposing this easy, poll-tested "solution" would inevitably strip citizens of constitutional rights based on shoddy, unspecific standards, based on suspicion alone, and with very limited options for recourse. (Weekly Standard writer and Fox News contributor Stephen Hayes, for example, somehow ended up on the terror watch list). GOP alternatives to Democrats' proposals have been rejected as overly concerned with silly legal niceties such as due process:
Sen. Joe Minchin of West Virginia, a Democrat who ran for office as a gun rights champion, was challenged on the due process element of this gun control debate (which, again, misses the real point entirely) on television this morning. His response was breathtaking:
The Democratic Party now seeks to curtail the protections of the first, second, fifth and tenth amendments to the Constitution -- a document they'll also insist enshrines a right to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy, absent any textual evidence. They demand "action," ignoring actual crime statistics and trends by proposing failed feel-good ideas while exploiting fear and emotion. They also make dumb, self-defeating arguments:
#Didyouknow 61% of perpetrators who killed police officers w guns in WA were prohibited from owning guns but were still able to obtain them?— Sen. Maria Cantwell (@SenatorCantwell) June 16, 2016
So gun laws didn't stop those killers from getting their hands on deadly weapons and using them to murder cops. That's what you're highlighting there, Senator. Nor did anti-murder laws. Call me crazy, but perhaps we should be spending much less time trying to undermine the second amendment and disarm law-abiding US citizens, and more time examining, say, this:
Add the Ft. Hood jihadist to that list. After obvious red flags were ignored, quite possibly in deference to politically correct optics, he proceeded to shout 'Allah Akbar' as he gunned down his fellow soldiers in a gun-free zone. Is it possible that our attention should be fixed on radical Islam, screening processes and domestic radicalization, as opposed to laws that radical Islamist terrorists (and other violent criminals) don't and won't obey?