Calls for more draconian gun control measures after a mass shooting have become a standard ritual coming from some portions of the political class. President Barack #Obama did not disappoint in his White House address after the Orlando massacre. “This massacre is, therefore, a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub." The president did mention that the mass shooting was an act of #Terrorism. He judiciously avoided the use of words such as “Islamist”, “Islamic” or any other reference to the motives of Omar Matane, who shot his way into a gay nightclub called the Pulse and shot to death as many as 50 people and wounded over 50 more, taking hostages before being killed by a police SWAT unit.
The emphasis on gun control and not on Islamist terrorism are likely to rankle most Americans, already frightened and angered by attacks by #ISIS radicals in such places as San Bernardino and Paris. Donald Trump, the Republican, who is seeking to replace Obama in the White House, took the president to task for his speech, suggesting that he should resign since he is not serious, in the view of the real estate tycoon turned politician, about fighting Islamist terrorism.
Mateen, who worked as a security guard, apparently acquired his firearms, including AR-15 and a handgun, legally. He was under the eye of the FBI because of his flirtation with Islamist terrorist websites, among other reasons, but had not been charged with a crime.
The problem faced by people like the president who advocate gun control as a reaction to terrorists who commit mass casualty attacks is how does on identify individuals who are potential perpetrators of mass casualty attacks. Would viewing terrorist websites be a sufficient reason for depriving a person of access to firearms? Would even advocating terrorism be a reason for suspending a person’s second amendment rights? These are not frivolous considerations.
The approach of gun control advocates such as the president would be to deny everyone access to entire classes of weapons, including so-called “assault weapons” which are distinguished by their appearance rather by their capacity to kill and main. The strategy is dubious on second amendment grounds and likely unworkable for practical reasons. The government has not had much success in restricting access to other products it disapproves of, recreation drugs for example. No evidence exists that people who contemplate mass murder will respect any sort of gun restrictions. The effect of "common sense gun control" would be to disarm law abiding Americans while doing nothing about terrorists' access to firearms.
The knee-jerk lurch to gun control, coupled with what many see as a lack of seriousness concerning fighting ISIS-inspired terrorism, is not likely to impress the voting public. The current strategy of regarding massacres such as happened in Orlando as a law enforcement matter rather than acts of war has particularly hampered efforts to defeat terrorism. The current election may turn on that flawed approach.