In the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen entered Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. He opened fire, killing 49 people and injuring 53 others. This brutal slaughter has been called the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil since September 11, 2001. Sadly, the progressives have chosen to ignore the facts surrounding the attack and have chosen to use the shooting as a propaganda tool for their anti-gun agenda.
The facts about the terrorist attack and Omar Mateen are not up for debate. The truth is that Mateen was previously investigated by the FBI for possible connections to international terrorist organizations. In addition, shortly before his attack on Pulse nightclub, Mateen called 9-1-1 and pledged allegiance to the leaders of ISIS. It is, at best, intellectually dishonest to divorce the attack from its root cause — radical Islamic extremism.
Yet, many of the Democrats in Washington immediately proposed several gun control measures. Four of the proposed bills were taken up by the Senate and all were rejected. Democratic lawmakers then responded by staging a “sit-in” protest on the floor of the House of Representatives, which caused quite a stir in the media. To be clear though, the protest was not about the victims — the protest was about gun control.
One Republican representative, Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) described the protest as “outrageous,” and said that House Democrats would grab microphones and prevent fellow lawmakers from conducting business in violation of House rules. Thankfully, House Republicans did not give in to these antics, and Speaker Paul Ryan dismissed the sit-in as a “publicity stunt” and “a fundraising stunt.” Nevertheless, while keeping up with the political drama unfolding in Washington, I witnessed an extreme amount of misinformation about guns that motivated me to pen a lengthy Facebook post addressing the issues surrounding the gun control debate, which in turn served as the inspiration for this guest post.
On a personal note, I want to stress that I regard it as a massive disservice to the victims of the terrorist attack that the terrorist attack has led to a contentious political debate on guns. As a Christian, my sincere thoughts and prayers remain with the victims, their families, and those recovering from the attack. In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack, it was my honest hope that we as Americans — we as human beings — would stand up together and present a united front against the extremism and hatred that Mateen embodied.
It is my firm belief that all people, men or women, gay or straight, black or white, are endowed by God with the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Therefore, the significant loss of human life makes it altogether more important for us to have an intellectually honest conversation about the issues surrounding the attack.
With this in mind, I’d like to begin by dispelling some of the myths about the guns used in the attack and the firearms that are currently available for civilian purchase in the US. Despite certain media reports, Mateen did not use an AR-15 in carrying out the attack. Mateen entered the nightclub armed with a pistol and a Sig Sauer MCX rifle, a firearm that is both functionally and cosmetically different than the AR-15. Regardless of the differences between the AR-15 and the MCX, neither gun is an “automatic gun” or a “machine gun” or even an “assault rifle.” These terms refer to firearms with automatic or select-fire capabilities, which means they are capable of firing more than one round (bullet) so long as the trigger is depressed continuously. Strict regulations already exist that make it virtually impossible for civilians to purchase automatic firearms. Automatic firearms are different than semi-automatic guns, like the AR-15, which are available for citizens to purchase and which are capable of firing only a single round each time the trigger is depressed.
Moving beyond the myths that have been reported about the guns used in the attack, I’d like to specifically discuss some of the problems with the following three gun control proposals currently being pushed by the progressives:
- The proposal to ban “assault weapons,”
- The proposal to close the “gun show loophole”
- The proposal to prohibit persons suspected of having terrorist connections from purchasing guns
Of course, as a general proposition, it’s easy to dismiss all of these gun control proposals by noting that criminals will not be stopped by legislation, and by pointing out that any anti-gun legislation would therefore only serve to impose barriers upon the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans. Likewise, it would be easy to point out that no measure of gun control, no matter how inflexible, could have prevented the hatred and jihadism that motivated Mateen. As for proof of this fact, we need look no further than the Paris terrorist attacks, where hundreds of innocents were maimed and murdered in another act of Islamic terrorism, despite strict French gun controls laws. But, for the purposes of this post, we’ll ignore these basic arguments and consider some of the other fatal flaws with each of the gun control proposals.
First, with respect to the proposed assault weapons ban, I think it’s best to focus upon the nature of the constitutional right enshrined by the Second Amendment. The proposed assault weapons ban, or AWB, would prohibit the manufacture or sale of certain firearms, like the AR-15, based upon cosmetic features (e.g.: pistol grips, barrel shrouds, and folding stocks), and would prohibit the manufacture or sale of high capacity magazines — not to be confused with “clips” — usually defined as those capable of storing more than ten rounds. The AWB is not a new idea. Congress passed an AWB back in the 90’s, which was in effect for 10 years until 2004. It had no definitive impact upon gun crime.
Proponents of the AWB often make ridiculous statements, such as: “No hunter should require more than 10 rounds to kill a deer,” or “The Constitution wasn’t written to cover guns as powerful as the AR-15,” or “Assault style weapons should be reserved for the military.” In my view, these sorts of arguments are often the strongest criticism of the AWB itself, insofar as these arguments prove gun control advocates are ignorant as to the meaning of the Second Amendment. The framers of the U.S. Constitution penned the Bill of Rights in broad language in order to encompass technological developments and changes. This is why the First Amendment right of freedom of speech and freedom of the press covers online and television publications. Further, the framers did not delimit the right of the citizenry to possess guns only for hunting or sport. In fact, the framers intended for citizens to be well-armed to permit citizens to take up arms in defense of the Republic against enemies, both foreign and domestic. This is precisely the reason why we as citizens should cherish and preserve our right to keep and bear arms of all kinds.
Next, with respect to the proposal to extend the current laws on background checks, I would initially emphasize that there is no “gun show loophole.” Currently, federal law requires a criminal background check for all firearm transfers effectuated by firearm dealers, regardless of the location of the sale, i.e., whether initiated online, at a gun store, or a gun show. Congress purposefully wrote the law in a manner that requires only dealers, that is, those in the business of selling firearms, to perform background checks. The law permits people to engage in limited transactions involving their personal property, which in turn prevents the government from having a complete record of gun sales and serves as a potential check on further intrusions onto the right to keep and bear arms.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want the government to stick its nose into every single transaction involving guns. For example, I don’t think the government should prevent a father from handing over his prized revolver to his daughter for personal protection as she embarks for college. Furthermore, it is simply unnecessary to expand the law, as there are existing laws that prohibit persons from regularly selling firearms without obtaining a federal license and which prohibit persons from knowingly selling guns to others who are prohibited by law from purchasing firearms.
Finally, one of the most common anti-gun proposals being bandied about right now is the “no fly, no buy” proposal, which would prohibit persons suspected of having terrorist connections (and who are listed on the no-fly list) from purchasing a gun. Some might argue that this proposal sounds reasonable. After all, nobody wants terrorists to be able to purchase guns. However, this proposal would not have stopped Mateen, who was not on the no-fly list at the time of the attack. More importantly, this proposal is constitutionally problematic under the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution. The central issue with the proposal is that there is no judicial oversight over who is listed on the no-fly list.
Thus, anybody can be placed on the no-fly list without notice or a court hearing. Based upon the whim of a bureaucrat in Washington, you or I could be labeled as a “terrorist threat” and prohibited from exercising our Second Amendment rights. To be clear, you don’t have to commit a crime, or even be accused of committing a crime, to be placed on the no-fly list. This means that those who support the “no fly, no buy” proposal actually support replacing due process with secret lists. No liberty-loving American should support such an unprecedented concept. It is fundamentally wrong, deeply disconcerting, and downright unconstitutional to deny persons from exercising their constitutional rights without due process of law.
To the extent that the progressives want to use the terrorist attack in Orlando to promote their anti-gun agenda, I would encourage them to speak about guns and their gun proposals in an honest manner. No reasonable person wants to see another lose his or her life at the barrel of gun, but, to quote Calvin Coolidge:
“Opinions…do not outmatch the Constitution; against it they are void.”
By Guest Writer, William Dunckelman, Esq.