This case is bringing up some serious questions in the gun community. Did our officials fail us? He was after all under FBI surveillance.
How does a man investigated by the FBI for possible links to terrorism buy an assault-style weapon in America? Easily.
Omar Mateen used a legally purchased AR-15-style weapon to massacre at least 49 people in an Orlando gay club early Sunday. The FBI had looked into him twice with inconclusive findings — not that a different result necessarily would have mattered.
The American-born Mateen had security and firearm licenses and his guns were legally purchased within the past week.
In most states, people convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes may still legally purchase guns. That suspected terrorists can legally purchase weapons in the U.S. has been a fierce point of contention in Congress and among gun-control advocates.
The Senate voted down an amendment in December that would block suspected terrorists from buying guns and explosives. The amendment, which needed 60 votes to pass due to procedural rules, failed 45-54. Five days later Senate Democrats tried and failed to force consideration of the bill.
Gabby Giffords, the former U.S. representative who survived a 2011 mass shooting, referenced that vote in an impassioned statement following the Orlando attack.
“These actions may or may not have stopped last night’s shooting, but we know they will save lives,” she said.
In expressing her condolences to the people of Orlando, Giffords noted that “thoughts and prayers are not nearly enough” for those with “the power to act and save lives.”
“The United States is the only advanced country in the world where these kinds of mass shootings happen with this kind of frequency,” she said. “Enough is enough: Congress must act.”
It was not immediately clear what if any watch list Mateen was on at the time of the Orlando massacre — though he had come across the FBI’s radar on more than one occasion.
He first came to the FBI’s attention in 2013 after co-workers reported he’d made “inflammatory” comments to them about radical Islamic propaganda.
A year later the FBI looked into him again because of his ties to an American who traveled to the Middle East to become a suicide bomber. Agents determined contact there was minimal and Mateen was not under surveillance on Sunday, when he carried out the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.