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Orlando: Exposing the False Premise of Background Checks

When a 29-year-old radicalized American-born terrorist conducted a one-man assault on a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, last week, most of us in the pro-carry movement were shocked and appalled, but not surprised. We have been warning that just such attacks are inevitable.

After all, across the globe, terrorists predictably choose targets that provide the maximum number of potential victims combined with minimal defensive capabilities. In military terms, they look for “soft” targets.

From the Mumbai hotel massacre to the attacks in Paris on Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan concert hall, from the San Bernardino, California shooting to this latest attack, the victims have always been virtually defenseless.

And even though there was an armed guard at the Pulse nightclub, and he courageously engaged the shooter, he was alone and had no back-up or support against a determined, trained, and better-armed attacker.

But even more interesting is that the Orlando shooter had been interviewed in person by the FBI—not once, but twice—for making threatening remarks, both on social media and to co-workers. However, when the investigation did not produce sufficient evidence to warrant prosecution, the case was closed.

As a result, in spite of the various “red flags,” the terrorist continued to be employed as an armed security guard. Neither his security license nor his Florida carry license was suspended. He also had no trouble passing the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) when buying two guns less than a week before he went on his rampage.

Naturally, anti-gun-rights politicians, both in Florida and elsewhere, wasted no time in turning the terrorist attack into a “gun” issue. One local Democrat state senator jumped to the microphones, ranting about the mythical “gun show loophole,” as well as claiming that anyone can buy guns on the Internet. The fact that the Orlando shooter bought his guns legally, after having passed the requisite background checks, seems to have been lost on her.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Democrat Senator Bob Casey has an even more troubling proposal. He wants to make even a misdemeanor conviction for a “hate crime” grounds for becoming ineligible to buy a gun. This is dangerous on so many levels, as the definitions and interpretations of so-called “hate crimes” are constantly changing—one could easily envision a time when people find themselves unable to buy a gun legally because they posted a pro-traditional marriage message on Facebook.

Unfortunately, what is not being discussed in the major media is perhaps the most important lesson that everyone should take away from the Pulse nightclub massacre (what the gun rights people have been saying all along is true): no background check system will ever stop anyone bent on killing from getting his or her hands on a gun.

Because even if the gunman had been unable to buy a gun as a result of his encounters with the FBI, he could simply have bought a gun off the street, like gang members do. Or he could have found a like-minded sympathizer with a clean record to simply buy the guns for him—just as the San Bernardino terrorists did.

Instead of attempting to reach a compromise with those who want to expand the scope of background checks, we should forthrightly challenge (and fight) their demonstrably false premise that background checks will “keep guns out of the wrong hands.”

They won’t.

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