Like you, Ed Leamer and I are horrified by Saturday’s shootings in Orlando. We deeply grieve for those who lost their lives and extend our heartfelt sympathies to their loved ones. We pray for the full recovery of those wounded in this terrible act of terror.
President Obama provided the most important directive arising from this atrocity when he said, “In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another.”
But in the days ahead we must take specific actions to stop the Mr. Mateens and others who commit the ultimate blasphemy. They justify their horrendous sins in the name of God.
Here are specific steps Ed and I advocate.
We must prohibit the purchase of weapons by those suspected by our government of terrorist connections or adherence to terrorist ideologies or who have, as did, Mateen, repeatedly threaten to kill people based on their race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
This is common sense. We have a no-fly list for potentially dangerous air travelers. We need a no-weapons list for those who appear inclined to engage in terrorist attacks. Yes, the list won’t be perfect. But the 2nd Amendment’s right of the people to bear arms does not extend to criminals, to the mentally ill, or to those dedicated to the violent overthrow of our country.
Mr. Mateen and the perpetrators of all the other mass killings in our country over the years, including those at San Bernadino, Sandy Hook, and Virginia Tech, were either mentally ill or dedicated to the violent overthrow of our country, or both.
Second, we must develop non-lethal means by which the public can defend itself against random attacks by terrorists. Whether this entails having selected, deputized, and appropriately trained members of the public arm themselves with tear gas canisters, smoke grenades, guns with rubber bullets, stun grenades, or some other means of self defense, the public must be enlisted to help our local and national law enforcement fight back in real time. Each school should also have a set of selected school teachers who are non-lethally armed and have been trained to protect their students.
Leaving 300 able-bodied people at the mercy of a lone gunman, as occurred in Orlando, for three hours to kill at will makes no sense. Neither Ed nor I know how best the government should ask the public to arm itself. Doing so will certainly raise its own concerns. But the public cannot be left to fight well armed killers with their bare hands.
Third, we must, at long last, end the sale of assault rifles. We do not allow private citizens to own tanks or jet fighters. Assault rifles, in our view, cross a reasonable line of munitions not projected by the Second Amendment. Their sale needs to be banned at once.
Fourth, we must deliver a strong military response to those organizations, such as ISIS, who are either directly sponsoring or encouraging terrorist attacks on our population. ISIS must pay a clear price for its public exhortations of terrorist attacks in our country. Each attack that occurs on our soil or on the soil of our allies must come at terrible and increasing cost to ISIS. We have the world’s most powerful military. We need to use it.
Fifth, we must, at long last, inform Saudia Arabia that their support of Wahhabism, one of the most extreme sects of Islam, which systematically teaches religious intolerance to Islamic children, must end immediately. We have been a steadfast ally of Saudia Arabia. But Saudia Arabia has spent millions over the years supporting schools throughout the Islamic world — schools that teach their children that those who don’t adhere to Wahhabism are to be hated, persecuted, and even killed.
We have no business defending a country that is teaching young Muslims to hate our country to the point of killing us. The Saudis support of Wahhabism helped produce Bin Laden. No American President has called them on this. It’s time to let the Saudis know that they can either spew hate against our country and the West, in general, or they enjoy our protection — they can’t have both.