where mass shootings lead to any legislative changes at all, it tends to be in the direction of guns becoming more easily available.
Watch lists are notoriously overbroad, rife with secrecy, and prone to error, raising significant civil liberties and due process concerns.
The Terrorist Screening Database is a consolidated U.S. government list of people who are alleged to be known or suspected terrorists. U.S. government agencies "nominate" people to be included on the list "based on credible information" which is subject to "several layers of review," according to the FBI. The No Fly List is a subset of the larger database and includes people who the U.S. thinks might be an aviation or national security threat. Critics, like the American Civil Liberties Union, say the information regarding terror suspects "risks stigmatizing hundreds of thousands of people," and the intelligence is often "based on vague, overbroad, and often secret standards and evidence." The effects of being placed on such lists "can be far-reaching." According to documents obtained by The Intercept, half of the people on the U.S. database had zero connection to any known terror groups. "That category — 280,000 people — dwarfs the number of watch-listed people suspected of ties to al-Qaida, Hamas, and Hezbollah combined," the online news site found. "Watch lists are notoriously overbroad, rife with secrecy, and prone to error, raising significant civil liberties and due process concerns,” Jonathan Hafetz, a professor at Seton Hall University School of Law, told Refinery29 via email. "But if we are going to have watch lists, such as those that prevent individuals from boarding airplanes or requiring additional security at airports, it's a no-brainer to use them to prevent the same individuals from obtaining firearms," Hafetz added.
Florida has some of the nation’s most lenient laws when it comes to gun sales.
The AR-15, which was used in the Sandy Hook School shooting, is "America's most popular rifle,” in part because it is "is customizable, adaptable, reliable, and accurate," according to the National Rifle Association. One of the guns used in the Orlando shooting was an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle. Florida has some of the nation’s most lenient laws when it comes to gun sales. While a three-day waiting period is required by the state, background checks are not required when guns change hands between private parties. The state also does not limit the number of weapons that can be purchased at one time or regulate “unsafe handguns” or large capacity ammunition, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. A person living in Florida is usually only prohibited from having a firearm if the person is convicted of a felony or is a "violent career criminal," as defined by law, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Likewise, there is no requirement under federal law to prohibit a person on a watch list from buying a weapon. Last year, the FBI ran background checks some 23 million times, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. But nationwide, individuals who were on a terrorist watch list who tried to buy a weapon were able to do so almost all of the time, the GAO found. In 2015, while people on the terrorist watch list were routinely checked, some 91% of the time they were allowed to proceed with a firearm purchase, according to federal data. Transactions were denied only 21 times — out of 244 firearm-related background checks.
There are simply far too many guns in the United States. It should be illegal for any private citizen to obtain a weapon like the one used in the Orlando massacre, which is designed for military combat, not for individuals in civil society.
Following mass killings, defined by federal statutes as incidents in which there are three fatalities or more, states introduce more firearms bills, according to an analysis by three Harvard Business School professors. But when it comes to enacting the laws, the results might not be what you’d expect. A mass shooting increases laws that actually "loosen gun restrictions by 75% in states with Republican-controlled legislatures,” the professors found. There was "no significant effect of mass shootings on laws enacted" by a legislature controlled by Democrats. Or, as The New York Times put it, "Where mass shootings lead to any legislative changes at all, it tends to be in the direction of guns becoming more easily available, like lowering the minimum age to buy a handgun to 18 from 21, or eliminating a waiting period for a gun purchase."
Current laws would not and did not stop the Orlando gunman from obtaining the weapons he used to senselessly kill 49 people.
Current laws would not and did not stop the Orlando gunman from obtaining the weapons he used to senselessly kill 49 people. "Sadly, there is no way to stop people like Omar Mateen. Zero. Nothing. He was a homophobic homicidal maniac that killed because of his warped religious beliefs," Mark Rossini, a former FBI agent who worked on complex criminal cases and counterterrorism matters, wrote on a social media post. "Just because someone is ‘a person of interest’ does not constitute guilt. You are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. If you want people like Omar Mateen stopped potentially…then change the law," Rossini added. Hafetz agreed that tighter gun control laws are what is needed. "Even using a watch list to deny potential gun purchases would not be foolproof, as the case of the Orlando shooter indicates since he was removed from the list. Ultimately, watch lists address the problem only at the margins," Hafetz said. "There are simply far too many guns in the United States. It should be illegal for any private citizen to obtain a weapon like the one used in the Orlando massacre, which is designed for military combat, not for individuals in civil society."