We’ve heard from pundits and politicians alike on the tragedy that occurred in Orlando over the weekend. Outrage and political posturing flew in all the usual directions. As Trevor Noah told his audience, “We’re shocked. We mourn. We change our profile pics and we move on…” Though there was no shortage of conversation addressing the common access that United States citizens have to high-capacity rifles.
One reporter has taken a different tack at understanding how this is all possible. Helen Ubiñas walked into a gun store in Philadelphia to investigate just what it takes to purchase the American mass-shooter’s preferred high-capacity firearm. Turns out, not a whole lot:
The AR-15 is on display in the window of the gun shop. It is being promoted as the gun of the week. What will it take to buy one, I ask the sales guy. Did I have identification? Yes. Was I a U.S. citizen? Yes. “Bingo,” the friendly gun-shop sales guy said. “All we have to do is fill paperwork out.” I’ve filled out more paperwork at the doctor’s office for a routine checkup than I did Monday afternoon.
The whole affair took seven minutes flat. Seven minutes, an ID, a form, and $759.99 and Ubiñas walked back to her car with a rifle. No need for anything in the form of training. Well, she did receive a coupon with her purchase.
No need for a concealed-carry permit. No mandatory training, though the guys did give me a coupon for a free day pass for a local gun range. No need for even a moment to at least consider how gross all of this felt as relatives of the dead were still being notified.
There you have it. That is how easy it is to get an AR-15 in America. Seven minutes, an ID, a clean record according to the current database, and some cash (or credit).
President Obama himself doesn’t understand how he cannot stop people on FBI watch lists from getting these weapons, yet can stop them from getting on planes. Ubiñas ends her quest for an AR-15 by reflecting on what is going on in her country that has led to this.
The fact is, what shattered so many lives in the early hours Sunday was about many things. Homophobia, first and foremost. Radicalism — the American gunman claimed allegiance to the Islamic State and praised the Boston Marathon bombers. Even if that’s not true, the radicals won’t have a problem with that. Mental illness. And yes, guns. Insane, nonsensical access to guns.
There are unbelievably hard days ahead for the families of the victims of this shooting. The hearts of the nation are with them. There’s no question the vast majority of Americans want stricter gun control. Ubiñas’ experience casts that desire in stark relief.