In Part I of this series published in December, 2015 immediately following the San Bernardino killing of 14 people by an ISIS-inspired husband and wife team, I made the obvious point that the slaughter was merely the first act of domestic terrorism against civilians on American soil by less than a handful of "lone wolves." Many more were certain to follow. Tragically, we've now had our second--the worst in American history--early Sunday morning, with at least 50 dead in a gay Orlando nightclub at the hands of an America-born Muslim claiming ties to ISIS.
In the decades long struggle by the NRA to prevent any infringement whatsoever on the purchase of all firearms by absolutely anyone who wants one, including assault rifles that belong only on the battlefield, San Bernardino marked the very first instance of unfettered acquisition of assault weaponry by home-grown terrorists. In the wake of that tragedy, the Democrats immediately put forth a bill in the Senate calling for the prevention of individuals from buying guns who were identified as terrorists on the so-called Terrorist Watch, many of whom were on the No-Fly list preventing them from boarding planes.
The rationale of the bill suggested that anyone who was identified by the FBI as too potentially dangerous to fly should not be allowed to purchase a firearm. The bill required 60 votes to pass. It was rejected by 53 republicans and one democrat, with 44 democratic senators and only one republican (Mark Kirk of Illinois) voting in favor of the prohibition. Republican spokesman, Senator John Cornyn, in a titanic stretch to justify the refusal to make it harder for suspected terrorists to have legal access to assault weaponry, weakly offered that it would be unfair for the innocents on the list to have their Second Amendment rights abridged, displaying no reservations whatsoever about the green light this would give to budding terrorists on the list.
In the earlier article, I presented a selection of statistics that startled many who read the piece. Hard facts, not opinions. For that reason, I quote the entire list:
• The Freedom Group, which manufactures the assault rifle used in the Sandy Hook slaughter, saw profits jump from $5.9 million to $57.7 in 2013.
• Smith and Wesson's profits jumped from $16 million to $79 million in 2013.
• Smith and Wesson's profits tripled year-over-year from July through Sept, 2015. In an overall flat stock market, their stock was recently up 130%.
• There are well over 300 million guns in the US, nearly one per person.
• After each spree shooting in movie theaters, schools, etc., gun sales skyrocket driven by fear of government bans and the desire for self-protection. Gun CEO's readily admit that shooting sprees are fantastic for business.
• On Black Friday following the Paris attacks, gun sale background check surged to a new record of 185,345, each for the purchase of one or more guns. This was before San Bernardino and does not include gun shows or online purchases.
Stunning numbers. Back to the present, we do not yet know the extent of NRA political contributions for the current election cycle, but we can be certain that they have continued on their meteoric trajectory. Many consider the NRA the most powerful and feared lobby in the country. And true to form, on the first business day following the massacre, Smith & Wesson stock did indeed surge 12% before closing up 6.87%, while the overall market lost nearly a full percentage point. Other gun manufacturers showed similar gains.
Omar Mateen had twice been intensively interrogated by the FBI for inflammatory statements regarding Islamic extremism. It was determined that his case was insufficient to warrant close monitoring. He could not be prevented from legally purchasing guns. One week before the massacre, he was able lawfully to purchase his semi-automatic AR type assault rifle as well as two subsequent purchases of a Glock pistol and an enormous cache of ammunition. The is no system to alert the FBI about the purchases, which would have allowed them to monitor Mateen's actions extremely closely and prevent him from carrying out the massacre.
In painfully sharp contrast, 20 year-old James Howell, who himself had served time for pointing a gun at a neighbor, acquired an enormous arsenal and drove from Indiana to LA, apparently bent on mass murder at the LA gay pride parade. At 7am PDT Sunday morning, less than five hours after the Orlando shooting ended, neighbors noticed that he had parked the wrong way on a one-way street and was behaving erratically. The police were called, they discovered the weapons, and yet another LGBT slaughter was prevented on the streets of LA.
In a similarly ironic twist, recall that only a few hours before the December, 2012 Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown CT, a 34 year-old deranged man in China leaped into a throng of six and seven year-olds as they gathered before entering school in the morning. Slashing wildly with a knife, he injured 22 children before being stopped. Not a single child died, whereas 20 children and six school staff were slaughtered in the Sandy Hook attack only a few hours later. Had the man been using an AR-15 rather than a knife, the results would have been as hideous as Newtown.
We know the drill. The NRA will lie low for a few more days while the outrage dies down. Then Wayne LaPierre, face of the NRA, will emerge from under his rock praising the armed security guard at the Orlando disco, stating that if only there had been more good-guy guns (in a loud, crowded, dark, strobe-lighted space!), that Americans need to arm themselves--the usual drivel.
As I stated in the earlier piece, we have crossed a terrible threshold in which our insanely easy access to military-style weaponry not only makes it possible for murderers, lunatics, and gang members to arm themselves. By buying off corrupt politicians, the NRA's accomplishments now allow home-grown terrorists the same access. It is not a matter of " if" but "when" the next American lone wolf terrorist attack occurs--and the next and the next and the next.
And yet there is no evidence whatsoever that the will of American voters has strengthened to see through the deceptions and insist on change.
Coming soon to a theater near you...