The owner of a gun store where the Orlando, Florida gunman purchased his weapons told reporters that he's sorry he picked that store, and wish he picked 'no place' to purchase the guns. (June 13) AP
Omar Mateen used a .223 caliber AR-type rifle and 9 mm semi-automatic pistol to carry out the deadly shooting on Sunday. He had purchased both legally.
In the wake of the massacre, tensions have flared over gun laws and gun rights. President Barack Obama spoke out in favor of increased gun control.
“We are also going to have to have to make sure that we think about the risks we are willing to take by being so lax in how we make very powerful firearms available to people in this country. And this is something that obviously I’ve talked about for a very long time,” he said Monday.
Mateen was able to pass a background check and legally purchase a gun from a Port St. Lucie Florida gun store, according to the FBI, even though he had been investigated for possible terror ties in 2013 and 2014.
Cord Byrd, a Florida attorney who specializes in Florida gun law, said that is the real problem. He said that the issue is not limiting the number of guns, but limiting the number of suspected terrorists who can purchase them.
“This shooting happened in a gun-free zone. We need to stop advertising to the criminals where the unarmed targets are,” said Byrd, who is also a member of the National Rifle Association.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the Port St. Lucie Shooting Center following the incident.
“An evil person came in here and they legally purchased two firearms from us, and if he hadn’t purchased them from us, I’m sure he would have gotten them from another local gun store,” said Ed Henson, St. Lucie Shooting Center owner.
According to a study by Quinnipiac University, 93 percent of Americans support gun background checks, and most also want a ban on assault weapons.
State Sen. Geraldine Thompson said we need stricter gun laws because “we’re not safe and we continue to have these mass shootings occur.”
“Now we need to go back to the drawing board and say, ‘This has not worked, and let’s put something in place that will make us safer,’” she said at a press conference Sunday.
Imam Muhammad Musri, president of the Central Florida Islamic Society, called for a ban on assault rifles altogether.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Orlando agreed. Nelson spoke about gun control at an event where President Obama met the families of victims and survivors of the Pulse shooting that was held at the Amway Center on Thursday. "At the end of the day, we need to ban assault weapons. This fellow had the equivalent of a souped-up M16 military rifle," Nelson told reporters.
What do the 2016 presidential candidates think?
Hillary Clinton (Democrat)
On Monday, Clinton spoke about the shooting and about gun control at a speech in Cleveland.
“If the FBI is watching you for suspected terrorist links, you shouldn’t be able to just go buy a gun with no questions asked,” Clinton said. “You shouldn’t be able to exploit loopholes and evade criminal background checks by buying online or at a gun show.”
Of assault weapons, Clinton said, “We have to make it harder for people who should not have those weapons of war.”
Bernie Sanders (Democrat)
“These types of weapons, without a doubt, should be banned,” Sanders said Tuesday on Twitter.
On NBC’s Meet the Press, Sanders expressed his desire to “make sure that guns do not fall into the hands of people who should not have them: criminals, people who are mentally ill.”
Donald Trump (Republican)
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that he “will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns.”
In the past, Trump has expressed support for the Second Amendment, saying that “gun-free zones are a catastrophe” and that “I am against gun control.” However, in 2000, Trump wrote in his book The America We Deserve that he supported an assault weapon ban and longer waiting periods to buy guns.
Jillian James is the Opinions Editor of the Central Florida Future. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org