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COLUMN: Lawmakers Should Address Terrorism and Respect Americans’ Constitutional Rights

June 27, 2016
Weekly Column and Op-Ed

Within one week of the terrorist attack in Orlando that took the lives of 49 innocent people, there has been a concerted effort to change the subject from radical Islamist terrorism, and the threat of ISIS here at home, to restricting Americans’ constitutional liberties. Proposals to limit Americans’ due process and Second Amendment rights will do nothing to prevent future acts of terror, but such policies would violate the rule of law and our values enshrined in our Constitution. The bottom line is that no terrorist should be allowed to purchase or own a firearm. Known terrorists should not simply be blocked from purchasing a weapon, but they should be apprehended and taken into custody.

There has been a clear attempt by the Obama Administration to downplay the reason for Omar Mateen’s act of terror. When the U.S. Justice Department released transcripts of the phone calls Mateen made to law enforcement, the Justice Department even omitted his stated references to ISIS and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Justice Department was pressured to release the corrected transcripts within hours. The words of Matten himself said: “I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State.” There can be no denying Omar Mateen’s motives.

After the attack in Orlando, the President said that the phrase “radical Islam” is “a political talking point” and “not a strategy.” The irony is that the administration hesitates to call a spade a spade even while it continues to fail to present a comprehensive strategy to defeat ISIS and Islamic extremism in the Middle East. Marine Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, nominated to command U.S. forces in Africa, recently testified before Congress: “I am not aware of any overall grand strategy at this point” to defeat ISIS in Libya.

Finally, last week, Democratic members of the House of Representatives flouted the rules to hold up the House floor and block all legislative work to push for gun control. In fact, the Senate had already considered the gun control legislation demanded by the House minority, and that legislation had failed to advance. Additionally, there is a process provided in the House rules by which any member can bring up any legislation for a vote. It simply requires the signature of 218 of their colleagues. Instead of using the process allowed by the rules, the minority staged a takeover that disrupted House business for political purposes, including sending fundraising emails, which sets a terrible precedent. The minority’s actions disrespected the democratic process and damaged the ability of the people’s elected-representatives to have their voices heard. Such grandstanding did nothing to address the threat of terrorism.

The gun control policies being pushed would not have prevented Omar Mateen’s ISIS-inspired hatred. Mateen passed a full background check. He had also been taken off the terror watch list by the FBI. If we as a nation are to defeat terrorism and defend the homeland, then we must remain focused on preventing ISIS operatives from carrying out attacks in the United States. Not changing the subject to restrict Americans’ liberties.