After I turn off the lights each night, I repeat the basic prayer of my faith followed by a brief, extemporaneous chat with God. It was just after 1 AM Sunday morning when I asked God to do what he can to achieve peace on earth.
At that very moment the largest mass shooting in the history of the United States was taking place across the country.
How can it be that 49 people were murdered in an Orlando, Florida, night club? How can it be that 53 people who went out for a good time on Saturday night – ended up fighting for their lives in Orlando hospitals on Sunday?
Then the “other shoe dropped”. The killer who pledged allegiance to ISIS — was known to the FBI but still was able to buy a military-style assault rifle from a legitimate gun dealer.
Massacres Have One Common Denominator
Watching the breaking news, I was struck by the sounds recorded by law enforcement. The rat-a-tat-tat – the speed and the volume or shots fired.
It sounded like a Hollywood war movie!
It’s the same sound we heard in the videos of Fort Hood, Sandy Hook, Tucson, San Bernardino, Charleston, Aurora and a dozen other instances in the last 8 years.
There is a common denominator: A semi-automatic, military-style assault rifle (AR-15). We learned after Aurora that you can buy this type of weapon at Wal-Mart!
To the best of my knowledge there are no wars going on in Aurora!
Democrats could not resist the urge to politicize the tragedy. They took to the Floor of the House of Representatives shouting “Shame” at the Republican Majority. They ignored the fact they failed to pass any meaningful gun control legislation when they were in the majority in both the House and the Senate. This is an Election Year and gun control is a perpetual issue to rouse voters.
Not a Time for Typical Politics
When I work on a new strategic direction with a corporate client I start with the facts. Focusing on facts avoids inter-personal tensions and political agendas from side-tracking the discussion.
All the participants are focused externally – listening more than talking — until they all come to a consensus about what to do with those facts. It is a first step in building the trust necessary to take more significant, risky actions.
People are scared.
What they want are solutions not posturing.
Our leaders must avoid political finger pointing and focus instead on quiet conversation that allows the evidence to lead us to constructive consensus, which would build a new multi-pronged strategy to combat all forms of domestic terrorism.
It is a fact – based on ample evidence – federal gun purchase background checks do not work to make us safer. 80 percent of Americans agree they must be strengthened.
Background Checks Are Not Gun Control
Congress passing legislation to expand and strengthen background checks could be a confidence building step toward a new homeland security strategy.
They have the facts:
- The Charleston massacre last year demonstrated that an arbitrary three day maximum waiting period is not long enough for a thorough FBI background check.
- The Orlando killer had been under FBI surveillance for nearly a year (2013-14) as a suspected terrorist but was able to walk into a gun store and walk out with a military assault rifle – no questions asked.
- The Department of Homeland Security maintains a “no-fly list” of potential terrorists to prevent the use of an airplane as a weapon of mass destruction but Congress has refused – so far –to make it illegal for these people to buy a gun.
- This policy is in fact: Crazy in its contradiction!
Congress has had more than a dozen opportunities to debate this subject over the last seven years. It’s time to stop talking and listen to the American people!
Amend the background check legislation this week with a simple amendment to the law that honors the memory of those who died in Orlando – while they were just out living their lives.
- Remove the 72 hour restriction from the background process. The FBI completes the background check when they have all the data required – no matter how long it takes.
- Integrate FBI interview records and the “no-fly list” with FBI gun background check system.
- If someone who has been interviewed or surveilled as a potential terrorist attempts to purchase a gun they should be flagged for an FBI interview before any action is taken on the gun purchase application.
- Similarly, anyone on the “no-fly list” who applies to purchase a gun must be subject to FBI interview and further investigation before any action is taken on the gun purchase application.
This legislation would be a small, politically safe step for Congress. It would be a huge step forward toward building a national consensus on steps that can make our homeland and our homes more secure by following the evidence the FBI and the ATF are developing in Orlando and across the country.
To do less dishonors the lives lost!