Today, the U.S. Department of Justice plans to release partial transcripts of three phone conversations that took place between Orlando shooter Omar Mateen and police during Mateen’s June 12 attack at the Pulse nightclub.
According to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the Justice Department is hoping that the release of these transcripts will further illuminate Mateen’s motivations for this deadly act.
The largest of Mateen’s self-professed motivations — his allegiance to ISIS — became public during the shooting. While inside the club, Mateen wrote the following on Facebook: “I pledge my alliance to (ISIS leader) abu bakr al Baghdadi..may Allah accept me.”
The transcripts released today will not include Mateen’s references to ISIS, Lynch said. As Lynch told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, the Justice Department doesn’t want to release anything that would “further this man’s propaganda.”
Pundits on the right quickly criticized this move as an attempt to make the Orlando shooting less about terrorism and more about gun control.
The latter is indeed a big issue at stake today, as the Senate will vote on four separate gun control proposals:
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA. proposed that the attorney general need only a “reasonable belief” (not quite “probable cause”) that a gun buyer is likely to engage in terrorism in order to deny a gun sale to that person.
- The amendment from Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX would allow the attorney general to block a sale of a gun to anyone who’s been investigated for terrorism within the last five years. That block would last for 72 hours, giving the courts enough time to review the sale.
- Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-IA proposed a higher standard for placing mentally ill people in the background check database for gun purchases.
- Finally, there’s the amendment from Sen. Chris Murphy, D-CT which would require every gun purchaser to submit to a background check, including those who’d been avoiding it with the current “gun show loophole.”
However, given the track record of the Republican-controlled Senate, it’s not surprising that The New York Times would bluntly state, “None of the proposed amendments are expected to pass.”
Indeed, none of the four gun proposals made in the wake of last December’s San Bernardino shooting passed. Ditto for 2012’s Sandy Hook massacre.