With all the mass shootings happening in the United States the country is in an uproar about gun laws. Should there be more restrictions? Fewer restrictions? In a generalized statement, it seems the nation is divided between those who believe giving citizens more freedom to carry guns will offer more protection to the general population and those who believe placing stronger restrictions on who carries will prevent shootings. Both sides present strong arguments, but a huge, and more specific, controversy surfacing now is whether or not people who are suspected of terrorism should be permitted to legally purchase firearms.
An FBI Investigation
The FBI first started investigating Omar Mateen in 2013 after learning that at work, Mateen spoke about al-Qaeda connections and becoming a martyr. As part of this investigation, Mateen was interviewed twice about his involvement in terrorism, but by the following year, FBI agents decided he was not a potential threat. However, just a few months later, Mateen again made his way into an investigation, this time as a link to an American suicide bomber in Syria. Suspicions were settled then too until the Boston Marathon bombing when Mateen’s case was opened yet again. Overall, Omar Mateen had been investigated 3 times by the FBI as a potential terrorist threat before he actually committed an act of terror on June 12th when he killed 49 and wounded 50 other people in a gay nightclub.
All of the three guns in Omar’s possession that night were bought legally in the state at the St. Lucie Shooting Center. Many argue that the tragedy might have been avoided if Mateen had been barred from purchasing the firearms while others bring up the point that he would have found another way to commit the same act of terror with or without gun rights. The previous FBI investigations raise several questions with no easy answers. One of the biggest is should Mateen have been allowed to purchase those firearms.
Regardless of how that night may or may not have played out, this is an important issue that should be addressed: should any person on the terrorist watch list be banned from purchasing firearms? Currently, this is perfectly legal.
Who Is Barred Now
There are several factors that put a person on a watch list for the FBI, and 10 categories will disqualify a person from purchasing a gun, essentially blocking their weapon transactions. However, being on the terrorist watch list is not a disqualifying category, meaning that even if someone is a known terrorist, they can still legally purchase a gun in the U.S. Only if they were to fall into one of these other 10 categories would they be barred from purchasing.
Gun rights also vary from state to state. California, for example, has strong restrictions over issuing carry permits and recent legislation has tightened these restrictions even further. Just one that has been in place requires a Firearm Safety Certificate for any gun purchases. This certificate is obtained through passing a written test. Concealed carry permits are also extremely rare and difficult to obtain for residents and visitors of California. A few states in the U.S. have almost no restrictions at all, but this may change in the near future.
Recent Federal Legislation
Following the June 12th shooting, Congress voted on 4 bills regarding gun laws and gun control which would have strengthened firearm background checks and prevented anyone suspected of terrorism from purchasing weapons. None of the 4 bills passed. In fact, 2007 was the last time a gun bill was passed in Congress. Even though these bills have not passed, that doesn’t mean government officials will give up on further gun control. It is likely that more control will be proposed in the future in response to the latest national tragedies.
What do You Think?
Should there be fewer restrictions on firearms or more? Could preventing people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns prevent future tragedies? At Low VA Rates, we believe every person in America should feel safe and secure in their homes. As just one part of the national goal to achieve this, we strive to offer low VA home loan interest rates.