Monday, October 15 , 2018, 10:01 pm | Fair 60º


Diane Dimond: Our Gun Violence Problem Needs Urgent Solutions — But What?

Oh, the empty rhetoric that spewed from politicians in the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history!

Stop all foreign Muslims from coming to the United States. Stop people on the No-Fly List from buying guns. Enforce tougher background checks for gun buyers. Restore the ban on assault weapons.

Really? Not one of those suggestions would have stopped what happened in Orlando, Fla.

The killer who perpetrated the awful mass murder at Pulse nightclub was an American citizen. So a ban on incoming Muslims is not only an ugly suggestion but it is completely beside the point.

The killer was never on a no-fly list (he was briefly on a terrorist watch list), so that would not have stopped him from buying the two guns he used during the attack. He was a security guard, so passing any background check was a snap.

Finally, he did carry the Sig Sauer MCX — very similar to the mass killers’ favorite firearm, the AR-15 — but he also carried a handgun. I suppose he could have been armed with more pistols instead of that particular rifle and done just as much damage during his three-hour spree.

Could we please learn lessons from these tragedies rather than toss around the same old stale suggestions that never get passed by Congress anyway?

More gun control laws? At this point in our history that would be like putting toothpaste back in the tube.

Even if all gun manufacturing were halted immediately, there are already more than 300 million privately owned guns in America. Among them are easily several million AR-15 rifles, which were declared illegal under the federal “assault weapons” ban from 1994 to 2004.

While I see no good reason for anyone to own one of these rapid-fire, high-capacity rifles, here’s a question: Say legislation is passed to re-institute the assault weapons ban. Then what? Do we rely on citizens to turn in their AR-15s to be destroyed? Do we police private homes looking for them?

And what do we do with those citizens found possessing a gun that they bought legally but is suddenly outlawed — toss them into our already over-populated prisons?

A retired FBI veteran who has worked posts around the world told me: “It’s not the guns. It’s the people. (More laws) are gonna stop the weapons? They haven’t stopped drugs. How are they gonna stop weapons when they can’t stop drugs?”

The truly criminal or disturbed, he said, do not pay attention to laws.

A federal law-enforcement source in the Southwest suggested we look to the Europeans’ example for the answer. The European Union has some of the most stringent restrictions in the world for private possession of firearms, but that didn’t stop Islamic terrorists from getting assault weapons and gunning down 130 innocents in a soccer stadium and cafés in Paris last November.

So, maybe it’s up to behavioral scientists to do a better job identifying those who will commit mass murders? Maybe the FBI needs to work harder to infiltrate terror cells.

“It’s become harder to do the job right since the only reaction from the (Obama) administration during/after these events has been, ‘Islam is a religion of peace,’ and ‘We will not tolerate Islamophobia,’” a federal prosecutor who insisted on anonymity told me. “Political correctness is killing effective law enforcement.”

It was a theme echoed by FBI sources across the country.

“Their hands are cuffed right now from continuing investigations, I can tell you that,” a retired agent on the East Coast said.

He continued: “That’s the dominant theme among folks here. They have to be so careful, so politically correct. They can’t give out the perception that they are targeting a certain group.”

Jim Clemente worked with an elite group of criminal profilers at the FBI. He says: “It is not possible to predict human behavior with certainty. No matter how you ‘profile’ active shooters, you cannot account for free will or hidden agendas.”

With the Orlando killer there seem to have been so many identity conflicts. He was a Muslim, but perhaps more than that, he was an angry man who regularly beat his ex-wife. He identified with radical rants against America and homosexuals, but, by several accounts, he was gay (or bisexual) himself.

“My personal opinion,” a 16-year FBI veteran and former member of the terror task force said: “I think the guy was so torn with his homosexual tendencies and he couldn’t fight it, couldn’t take it anymore. I think he may have used his religion as an excuse to kill all these people because ... he was disgusted with himself, and so this is the way he handled the demons inside of him.”

So, with all this in play — radical Islamic thoughts, possible sexual-identity issues, gun violence — why is it we only discuss tackling the hardware part of the problem?

When do we get serious about the psychological part of the equation? The part that makes an angry individual pick up a weapon (be it a gun, knife or a crowbar) and take the life of another.

Simply throwing around the old-saw solutions stated above gets us nowhere. And we’ve been on that path far too long.

Diane Dimond is the author of Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case. Contact her at [email protected], follow her on Twitter: @DiDimond, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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