June 14, 2016
What to make of the tragic events in Orlando? John Malcolm, one of the world’s legal top minds here at Heritage offers his thoughts:
“What happened in Orlando is horrific, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire LGBT community. Anytime there is a loss of life, it is horrific, but resorting to more gun regulations will not necessarily make us safer, since it is often the case that only law-abiding citizens, who only want to protect themselves and their loved ones, will abide by such laws.
Omar Mateen had a security clearance from one of the largest security companies in the world, a company that performs contract work for the State Department and Department of Homeland Security. According to press accounts, he was not on any Watch List at the time he purchased his firearms. While he was questioned by the FBI in 2013 and 2014, the Bureau closed its investigations after concluding that he did not pose a legitimate threat.
Mateen was a violent Islamist who became radicalized in this country, declaring his allegiance to ISIS and expressing sympathy with other known terrorists. If he had not been able to obtain firearms legally, he almost certainly would have been able to get them through the black market. The thought that a gun control measure would deter a committed terrorist like Mateen is ludicrous. Stopping such an act is a very difficult thing to do, but what is primarily needed is greater vigilance and better intelligence, not more gun control regulations.
While the notion of prohibiting people on a Watch List from legally purchasing firearms has some surface appeal, it is important to remember that there are hundreds of thousands of people on that list, many, if not most, of whom have no recognized terrorist group affiliation. Unlike other categories of people who are prohibited from purchasing firearms, such as convicted felons or those who have been adjudicated to be mentally ill, there is no due process protection against being wrongfully added to a Watch List based on incomplete and misleading evidence or clerical errors, and the redress process to get removed from the list is opaque and cumbersome.
Now is the time for sober reflection and not knee-jerk reaction.”