There is much we don’t know about the San Bernardino massacre.
But we have learned something about the arsenal deployed to kill at least 14 and injure more than 20 others.
The San Bernardino authorities have revealed that the alleged assailants — Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27 — were killed in a police shootout in possession of two .223-caliber assault rifles, and nearly 1,400 rounds of ammunition. They also carried semiautomatic handguns.
The assault weapons were purchased legally. But these tactical arms are only legal in the United States because of the efforts of the NRA — which cowed congress into watching the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban expire under president George W. Bush.
Military-bred weapons have since become commonplace.
DPMS Panther Arms, which, according to police, manufactured one of the assault weapons found in the assailants’ rented SUV, has closed its store temporarily. It had been offering $200 cash back as part of a “Black Friday Bonus Savings” promotion.
DPMS’s parent company is the Freedom Group, which also owns Bushmaster, the brand of assault weapon wielded by Adam Lanza in the Newtown massacre. At the bottom of its online store, DPMS links to the websites of the NRA, the NRA-ILA (the group’s lobbying arm) and the Friends of NRA.
The Smith & Wesson rifle police say they recovered in San Berardino is from the company’s popular M&P line; M&P is short for “military and police.” In 2012, Smith & Wesson was inaugurated into the NRA’s Golden Ring of Freedom — “reserved for those who have given gifts of cash or assets to the NRA totaling one million dollars or more.”
There is increasing speculation that the San Bernardino assailants could have been linked to international terrorists. But under U.S. gun laws, even ties to jihadists — sufficient to land an American on the FBI’s terror watch list — do not prevent the purchase of guns, including military- and police- style assault rifles.
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The Government Accountability Office has reported that “membership in a terrorist organization does not prohibit a person from possessing firearms or explosives under current federal law.”
From 2004 to 2014, according to the GAO, more than 2,000 suspects on the FBI’s terrorism watch list successfully purchased guns — at a success rate of greater than 90 percent. The NRA has lobbied against legislation that would close this loophole by calling it “sponsored by gun control extremists.“