U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff has asked the Justice Department to let FBI agents request notification when certain people being removed from the “no fly” list about attempt to buy a gun.
Such a measure might have alerted FBI agents that Omar Mateen, the terrorist who killed 49 people in a gay bar in Orlando on Sunday, was buying a gun. Mateen had been placed on an FBI terrorist watch list and the no fly list after agents questioned him in 2013 and 2014 about ties to terrorism. The FBI closed its investigation, and Mateen was removed from the no fly list. Schiff’s proposal is to let FBI agents request notification when someone they are concerned about is removed from the list.
The no fly list is managed by the federal government’s Terrorist Screening Center. It includes people who have engaged in or are deemed likely to engage in terrorist activities. They are banned from commercial flights into and out of the United States. People can appeal their placement on the list, and they can be removed if the FBI finds no good reason to keep them there.
Schiff, a Democrat whose district includes West Hollywood, described that as a minor first step in a series of steps that need to be taken to curb gun violence.
“That would be a minimal first step,” Schiff said in an interview with WEHOville. “The second step would be to ban people who are on the no fly list from buying weapons. The next is banning assault weapons.”
Schiff acknowledged that instituting a ban on assault weapons and enacting stricter gun control laws will be difficult. He said he shares the feeling of disappointment by many Americans that Congress hasn’t taken major steps since the 2012 murder of 27 students and teachers by a single gunman at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Schiff, who is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said he views the Sunday attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando as a terrorist attack and as an act of violence aimed at LGBT people. Mateen has declared his allegiance to ISIS, the Middle Eastern terrorist group, although there is no evidence that he is connected with the group. And his wife has said that he made derogatory remarks about gay people.
“I think the president was right on the mark when he described this as an act of terror and an act of hate,” Schiff said, referring to President Barack Obama’s speech on the Orlando massacre on Sunday.
Schiff said he also understands the impact the Orlando murders have had on the LGBT community. He noted that he was on a Sheriff’s Department bus on Sunday headed to the LA Pride parade in West Hollywood when he was alerted that a heavily armed man who said he was headed to Pride parade was arrested.
“It generally raises a serious level of concern within the LGBT community that you could really have copycat attacks or that places that were considered safe zones, safe places for people to be who they are, are not,” he said.
Asked to respond to the hopelessness that some Americans feel about convincing Congress to better regulate firearms, Schiff said he does have hope. He noted that the Orlando massacre has led to some Republican lawmakers agreeing that people on the “no fly” list shouldn’t be allowed to own guns.
“I think what it’s going to take is a determined effort by gun safety advocated to put the same amount of pressure on Congress as the NRA,” Schiff said.
Wants assault weapons ban, background checks, xxx clips.