The greatest threat to our homeland security today is the National Rifle Association, a front group for the firearms industry that derails gun-safety measures and perversely profits with each new mass shooting.
Responding to Orlando — the deadliest attack by a gunman in our history — the NRA blamed the massacre on “the Obama administration’s political correctness” and not the terrorist’s access to “so-called ‘assault weapons'” — while advertising that “semi-automatics are the most popular firearms sold in America for sport-shooting, hunting and self-defense.”
Make no mistake: The NRA paved the way for the Orlando attack, during which Omar Mateen killed at least 49 people.
—The NRA’s lobbyists and political allies fought for a raft of permissive state gun laws, turning Florida in particular into the “Gunshine State.”
—The gun lobby’s gusher of campaign cash and threats of electoral retribution cowed our federal leaders into inaction on gun control, even in the face of the slaughter of first graders, an assassination attempt on a member of Congress, and the rise of home-grown terrorists.
—The NRA’s politicking has warped the Constitution itself. The late Antonin Scalia authored the 2008 Supreme Court decision that recast the Second Amendment as a guarantee of individual gun rights. Today, the NRA’s top Senate allies are blocking a Supreme Court nominee who could limit or reverse that decision.
—The combined effect? Military-derived weapons are ubiquitous, cheap and simple to obtain — even for individuals on the FBI’s terrorist watch list. The NRA’s unhinged gun advocacy has created a soft underbelly to our homeland security that radicals are exploiting to inflict mass murder.
Let’s follow the road backwards.
America the vulnerable
ISIS-inspired terrorists are now exploiting our country’s unique and astonishingly easy access to military-derived weapons, where a semiautomatic AR-15 can be purchased in under 10 minutes.
In the past year, we’ve seen two mass shootings — in San Bernardino and Orlando — by self-radicalized terrorists who secured weapons for their mass slaughter with trivial effort.
These terrorists are exploiting a vulnerability identified in jihadi training materials going back over a decade.
A terrorist manual discovered in Afghanistan in the early 2000s titled “How can I train myself for Jihad” encourages would-be terrorists to obtain military-grade weapons in America: In “some states of USA,” it reads, “it is perfectly legal for members of the public to own certain types of firearms. If you live in such a country, obtain an assault rifle legally, preferably AK-47 or variations.” (The AR-15, which the NRA calls “America’s Rifle,” is the domestic cousin of the Russian AK-47.)
A 2011 Al Qaeda recruitment video included similar advice: “America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?”
Despite the stated intent of terrorist organizations to exploit America’s lax gun laws to wage jihad here, our NRA-cowed Congress has refused to act. Just last December, in the wake of the San Bernardino massacre, 54 senators — 53 of them Republican — voted to block a measure that would restrict gun buying by individuals on the FBI’s terror watch list.
The bill’s sponsor, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, rebuked her colleagues. “If you need proof that Congress is a hostage to the gun lobby, look no further than today’s vote,” she said.
Mateen had been on and off the FBI watch list. It’s unclear that Feinstein’s legislation could have prevented this monster from obtaining the Sig Sauer MCX “Black Mamba” he used to carry out his massacre, but it would create a line of defense against like-minded radicals now on the FBI’s radar.
Second Amendment fundamentalism
The reason, we’re told, that people on the FBI terror watch list can’t possibly be restricted from gun ownership is because of the Constitution. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, explaining his “no” vote last December, insisted such lists are imperfect and he wouldn’t stand for Americans “having their Second Amendment rights being impeded upon.”