How Orlando Mass Killer Was Able To Buy Guns Despite Being on FBI Threat Radar
Omar Mir Sadiq Mateen, 29, is now the nation’s most prolific mass shooter after killing 50 people and wounding at least 53 others at an Orlando nightclub early Sunday morning. Shockingly, despite the fact that Mateen was reportedly on the FBI’s radar prior to the shootings, he was still able obtain legally the firearms used in the savage attack. Hillary Clinton wasted little time late on Sunday essentially questioning why someone with ties to terror is able to get a hold of guns, and especially an AR-15 style rifle.
Sure, the idea sounds absurd at first glance — “terrorists” shouldn’t have guns — but it is not that simple.
According to ABC News, FBI agents first began investigating Mateen in 2013 after co-workers complained he made inflammatory remarks and mentioned he had ties to terrorists.
“The FBI first became aware of Mateen in 2013 when he made inflammatory comments to co-workers alleging possible terrorist ties,” FBI Special Agent in Charge (Orlando) Ronald Hopper said to CNN.
Fox News reports the Bureau conducted an investigation in 2013 that included conducting surveillance of Mateen’s activities, reviewing records, interviewing him and other witnesses.
Harper said the 2013 probe concluded after agents “were unable to verify the substance of his comments.”
In 2014, Mateen was back in the FBI’s cross-hairs as agents were then looking into his possible connections to American suicide bomber Abu-Salha. But again, the FBI determined Mateen posed no threat and his connections were minimal.
“We determined that contact was minimal and did not constitute a substantive relationship or threat at that time,” Hopper told CNN.
So, at least based on what we know now, the FBI never substantiated any of the claims — at least enough to warrant further investigation. Thus, Mateen, is an American-born citizen convicted on no crimes, entitled to all the rights of any of law abiding American citizen. In addition, he had a concealed weapon permit in Florida. Unfortunately, there was nothing stopping him from purchasing a weapon. The ATF reported he did just that about a week before the attack at the nightclub.
Those who think Mateen should not have been able to get a weapon because he had contact with the FBI two years ago are essentially making the same argument President Barack Obama made after San Bernardino. Obama would always say terrorists on no-fly lists should not be able to purchase firearms. Obviously, it would’ve been great to see into the future and ensure that Mateen did not get a weapon. But are those advocating for such a system really ready to start depriving U.S citizens of Constitutional Rights without Due Process?
During the gun debate in the aftermath the San Bernardino terror attacks, the Washington Post legal blog The Volokh Conspiracy addressed some of these proposals and concluded proponents like Sen. Diane Feinstein were essentially asking for the power to strip Americans Constitutional Rights “Not based on a past criminal conviction or even a restraining order issued in court under a ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard, but based just on the government’s suspicion,” Professor Eugene Volokh wrote.
Prof. Volokh ultimately concluded such a bill would almost certainly be unconstitutional, especially because the Second Amendment is an “explicitly guaranteed constitutional right.” The government should be required to do more than simply reply upon mere “suspicion and speculation as a basis for denying” one’s Second Amendment right, he concludes.
There is not a person alive reading this piece that wouldn’t want to go back and prevent Sundays’s horrible events. But lawmakers who want to make a difference should not start with any proposal that lowers the government’s burden to take away an American’s constitutionally protected right.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.