Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP
Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP

When I finally got around to checking the news Sunday morning, I sighed. Another mass shooting. This one at a gay nightclub. One that was hosting ‘Latino Night’. Theories started going through my head as to what caused this.

Was it bigotry? Homophobia? Xenophobia? Or was it just some mentally ill nut job?

What a surprise when I found out it was all of the above.

Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard, who was apparently an asshole, wife-beating, screwjob, was quickly identified as the shooter. He was also dead, killed by police as he held 30 or so people hostage after killing nearly 50. Good. If Hell is real, I look forward to him burning in it.

ISIS quickly decided to take credit for the shooting, seizing the opportunity made when Mateen apparently called police and pledged his allegiance to the assholes. In reality, they likely had no idea it happened till they saw it on the news. Mateen apparently didn’t have any direct links to ISIS, though in the past he had made remarks.

The FBI investigated Mateen twice – once in 2013 and again in 2014. At one point, Mateen was on the FBI’s terrorism watch list, but was removed after the investigations went nowhere. Still being on the list wouldn’t have helped matters any. The NRA, through their pets in Congress, blocked a bill that would prevent people on the watch list from buying firearms. Even if that had not happened, background checks are not required in Florida for private sales, so Mateen would simply need to find someone without issues to purchase the weapons for him.

Florida’s loose gun laws also allowed Mateen to purchase multiple firearms at once, as much ammo that he wanted, and without any kind of permit, license, or registration. There is also a three-day waiting period required in Florida for handguns. That waiting period does not exist for weapons like the AR-15 Mateen used.

I tread lightly here. I am not opposed to people owning guns, even assault rifles. However there needs to be some point in between a total gun ban and the NRA’s Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere gun policy. Perhaps a ban on over-the-counter sales of assault rifles and large capacity magazines is the key?

I know, anyone someone tries to bring up any kind of gun regulation, people will yell and scream “SECOND AMENDMENT” and point out that assault rifles are for home defense and anti-tyranny operations. About that… First off, I’ve covered dozens and dozens of self-defense homicides in my career and never once – NOT ONCE – have any of these self-defense shootings happened with an assault rifle. Shotgun? Yup. Handgun? You betcha. Assault rifle? Not in my experience. Plenty of folks have been killed with assault rifles in home invasions and drive bys, however.

Secondly, do you really think that you, with your AR-15, would stand a chance if the government did decide to go all tyrannical on us? The United States military is the best in the world, with the most advanced equipment and can kill you in your car from a pilotless airplane at 55,000 feet. The mere idea that we would have any chance of defending ourselves from the government (in the very, very, very unlikely event it went bad) with the civilian weaponry that we have is not only ludicrous, but laughable.

Fortunately, if there ever was that scenario, I fully believe that well over 80% of the military would disobey orders, so we’d have them on our side.

Regardless, I’m not advocating a complete ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines here. Despite the utter ridiculous idea that we need those weapons, we should be allowed to own them. What I do think the proper response would be is to make the sale and transfer of these weapons and accessories more difficult.

There should be a thorough background check run on everyone who wishes to purchase an assault rifle or large capacity magazine. Scrutiny should be additional people like Mateen whom, while not currently under investigation, have been in the past. There should be a long waiting period – 14 days at least – to give the authorities time to check things out. Stolen weapons should be required to be reported within 24 hours. Finally, all gun owners should be trained and licensed.

None of this prohibits a law-abiding citizen who wants an assault rifle from obtaining one. At the most, it’s an inconvenience.

I cannot take a bottle of Coke onto an airplane because some jackass tried to blow up his underpants. I have to get a mini-CAT scan before boarding. I have to present my driver’s license and get put into a database to buy cold medicine. I have been stopped without cause at a checkpoint because people drive drunk. For fuck’s sake, the police can seize any cash I have on me, regardless of whether or not I’ve actually committed a crime.

Surely, a little more inconvenience that could prevent future mass murders is not too much to ask for.

Then again, what do I know. Posting “Thoughts and prayers” on Facebook is far more convenient.

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