WTVM Editorial 6/17/16: Could the Orlando massacre shooter been prevented?

WTVM Editorial 6/17/16: Could the Orlando massacre shooter been prevented?

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - One heartbreaking fact about the hideous Orlando massacre is that the terrorist killer was able to legally buy a gun.

One gun store owner in Florida called the FBI to report his suspicious customer.

But Omar Mateen just took his business elsewhere.

He could buy guns, partly because the FBI had dropped him off the terrorist watch list. If the killer had still been on that list, the FBI would have been notified during his background check.

Because gun buyers' names are supposed to be cross-referenced with the terrorist watch list.

That's how the FBI should have stopped him.

The FBI is in charge of the terrorist watch list -  which has about 800,000 names – and once you are on the list, it's very hard to get off the list.

The better-known "no fly list" is a smaller subset of the terrorist watch list, with just 64-thousand names, and no, the Orlando terrorist wasn't on the no fly list, either.

His name was removed from the terror watch list in 2014 after FBI investigations of him did not uncover any illegal activities.

When his case was closed, his name came off the list.

But the FBI could have kept Mateen's case open and his name on the terror watch list, at least for a while.

Unfairly accused people whose names are wrongly added to the terror watch list often spend years, sometimes a decade, trying to get the government to help them correct the record.

So it is a little curious that when the investigation into the Orlando killer found no evidence of illegal acts, his name drops off the watch list faster than you can say radical Islamic terrorist.

Keeping the case open a while longer could have and should have kept him from buying the gun in the first place.


General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to hsteuart@wtvm.com or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee
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Columbus, GA 31906

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