Gun Laws

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.

Gun Laws


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.



The War on Terror

Judging from the polls, a weary, inward-looking American public has long stopped caring much about what used to be called the “war on terror.  What began as one horrific attack resulted in a simple, 60-word Authorization for the Use of Military Force three days later.

“That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United Stated by such nations, organizations, or persons.”

We Have Forgotten Much

I well remember the sentiment that cascaded across this country, width, and breadth, 13 years ago. It was long ago. It was yesterday; we’ve forgotten much.

We now wonder how to end a war with an enemy that is fanatically determined to attack all things Western, in any country, at any time, and without regard to the victims of its attacks. In fact, they think the more heinous the attack; the more horrible the act, the better purpose.

Consider the resources it takes to monitor communications channels, national borders, food and water supplies, those venues where large bodies of people assemble, air travel, and on and on. Our societies, our lives, are forever changed. We will not in the imaginable future experience the coming and going, the moving through the events of our lives, without facing these security issues, without submitting to a military search and scrutiny meant to assure us that there is not a mindless assassin in our midst.

What affiliation do we owe these people whose credo is to kill and terrorize wantonly and indiscriminately, the more shocking the better? How do we reason with this enemy? We don’t. How do we find and destroy this enemy? We cannot. We’re 13 years into this. But let’s not forget what has happened and let’s not flag in our resolve to resist this dogma of destruction.

The Medieval Mindset

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, once called those of this mindset “medieval,” and he was right. A modern society, build morals, rules, and laws, cannot ever be entirely secure when its enemy cares only to destroy.  Destruction is mindless, random, and can be spawned from any of a million different means. It wants regression into the abyss, into the blackness and sameness of One Thing and One Thing only.

Throughout violence-torn Middle Eastern, African, and Central Asian countries, al-Qaida operatives appear from the dust like warriors spawned by the mythical dragon’s teeth. Their volition is to destroy, that’s all. They are against growth, against progress, against industry, and against the human spirit. They want to return the world to the dark ages and enslavement.

How ironic that these terrorists in our world claim to have a law; they claim to have an objective; they are bent on pushing everyone in the world to kneel to that ideal. And they have no problem whatever with the indiscriminate murder of as many men, woman, and children as it takes until that idol is enthroned.

There is no freedom there, no liberty, no light. There is only the neutered obedience to the interpretation of their mutated law. There can be no deviation to the left or the right. Anything outside the line is caught and squashed like a bug, with no more thought. There is no respect for any other idea, no appreciation of any other institution, no room for any expression except the One. There is no sense of history, no regard for the truths that have kept and governed other nations for millennia.

How simple and how foolish to think that al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations will cease and desist if we will pull away and ignore them. The fights worth being in life, whatever their bruises and bumps, are the ones worth being in. And this war on terror is one of them.

In our day, we watched for a moment what this ideology looks like when in power. We saw it in Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban. We saw in stark fireworks against a night sky how it acted and how it governed. We saw how it thought, how it moved, how it ruled.

Should al-Qaeda prevail anywhere, the establishment of radical Muslim law will be one thing. Then the policing of that law and the execution of its penalties for those caught acting contrary will be left to the twisted cruel hearts and minds of those whose only purpose has ever been destruction and whose only methods have ever been terror, repression, and fear.

It takes no imagination to see to the end of this road.

US Ups Its Stake in the Mali Conflict

If you missed it, the United States is more directly involved in Mali, committing military drones and troops to support their missions. In a Feb. 22, 2013 letter to Congress, President Obama said:

“On February 20, 2013, the last elements of a deployment of approximately 40 additional U.S. military personnel entered Niger with the consent of the Government of Niger. This deployment will provide support for intelligence collection and will also facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali, and with other partners in the region. The total number of U.S. military personnel deployed to Niger is approximately 100. The recently deployed forces have deployed with weapons for the purpose of providing their own force protection and security.”

The United States and Niger signed a Status of Forces Agreement last month, setting the conditions for the presence of American troops in the country. On condition of anonymity, a Pentagon official said the unmanned planes were sent to Niger “to support a range of regional security missions and engagements with partner nations.”

An Eradication Mission

The commander of the African Military Force (AFISMA), consisting mostly of Mali’s neighbors, is taking aggressive action against the Islamic extremist rebels. “This is not a containment mission; this is an eradication mission,” said Nigerian Major General Shehu Abdul-Kadir.

It appears the world has had a gut-full of terrorists. And, if you look at what is being said and what is being done in Mali by a united coalition of determined countries, you begin to feel some hope—hope that the military objective is a lot more than to just push these terrorists back into hiding.

The hope of freedom-loving people all around the world—and particularly the hope of people who have been indiscriminately targeted and murdered for terror’s sake—is to rid the world of this ideology that oppresses and eventually destroys everything it touches.

The eradication of the terrorists in Mali progresses. The French continue to wage war on the rebels and drive them out of the lands they have infiltrated. The terrorists fled to remote areas as France drove them out of population centers. Most of them are believed to be in remote mountain hideouts near the Algerian and Niger borders.

Mali’s neighbor countries have formed a military force and are actively participating in military operations against the rebels. US military drones are undoubtedly playing a huge role in locating the militants.  Working together, these countries are hunting militant forces down and getting rid of them.

As a recent example, a Chadian army briefing picked up by Reuters News on February 22, 2013 reported its troops killed 65 of the Islamic radicals linked to al Qaeda in fierce fighting in northern Mali. 13 Chadian soldiers lost their lives in that battle, fought in the Adrar des Ifoghas Mountains of northeastern Mali.

Social media chatter is painting a clear picture of terrorists in retreat, trying to fight their way out of an ever-tightening circle of resolve to end their little game. The Mali conflict is far from over, but it may yet serve as a model of how to deal with al Qaeda and their like.

It’s an expensive campaign; but we’ve always known that freedom isn’t free.

Here’s a shout out to 100 or so brave American troops in Niger, to the French, and to AFISMA.

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