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Why people on Terrorist Watch List can legally buy guns

Posted at 10:01 PM, Jun 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-14 06:21:55-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- When Omar Mateen recently went to buy an assault rifle and handgun, he had no problems making the purchase despite having -- at one time -- been on the FBI’s Terrorist Watch List.

That’s because even people on the list are legally allowed to purchase weapons in the United States.

“We’ve got laws, if we start caving in and saying well, the FBI checked into him so he shouldn’t have guns that’s not America,” Philip Van Cleave, who advocates for gun rights as the President of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, said.

He argued Americans on the Terrorist Watch List, and the No Fly List, should be allowed to buy weapons.

“You’re not accused of a crime you don’t get to defend yourself, somebody just throws you on a list,” Van Cleave said.

Philip Van Cleave

Philip Van Cleave

On the other end of the spectrum is Andrew Goddard.

“I think it’s ludicrous, absolutely ludicrous,” Goddard said.

Goddard’s son Colin was shot four times during a mass shooting at Virginia Tech. Colin survived.

Andrew Goddard

Andrew Goddard

“It’s very sickening to go through these things again and people say, well no flags were raised, all kinds of flags were raised!” Goddard said.

Goddard now advocates for gun violence prevention and believes people on the No Fly List and Terrorist Watch List should receive extra scrutiny when buying a weapon.

“It should be something that says we need to go one step further with this person because we just don’t know,” Goddard said.

According to various news reports, FBI agents questioned Mateen in 2013 and 2014 about potential ties to terrorism, but ultimately concluded he had not broken any laws and removed him from the Terrorist Watch List.