In the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando, where an Islamic State-inspired jihadist massacred 49 people, Rep. Rod Blum quickly offered his sincere prayers for the victims, their families, and all Americans affected by this senseless loss of life and brutal attack on our way of life.
His opponent Monica Vernon, on the other hand, sent out a news release attacking Congressman Blum for his support of the Second Amendment and demanding that Congress ban Americans who find themselves on government watch lists from purchasing legal firearms.
Vernon is wrong. Congressman Blum has said repeatedly that he supports preventing terrorists from getting weapons while also protecting our rights as American citizens. These lists comprise nearly 1 million Americans, some of whom are on there by accident and none of whom have been convicted of being a terrorist. Due process must not be hastily thrown out in times like these and Rep. Blum understands that.
To add insult to injury, Vernon’s campaign even emailed a fundraising solicitation with more lies and misrepresentations about Congressman Blum to fill her campaign coffers over the coffins of the Orlando victims.
Here are the facts: the FBI classifies this case as a terrorist investigation. Omar Mateen visited jihadi websites for years. During the June 12 attack, Mateen pledged his allegiance to ISIS and identified himself as an “Islamic soldier.”
In 2013, the FBI investigated Mateen based on allegations that he claimed to be connected with al-Qa’ida and Hezbollah. After law enforcement found no corroborating evidence, the FBI closed the probe in 2014.
Despite Vernon’s statements about “no fly, no buy” legislation, such a bill could not have prevented this attack. Mateen was placed in the Terrorist Screening Database (also known as “the watchlist”) and the No Fly List. However, once the FBI investigation closed, Mateen was removed from the lists and was not prohibited from purchasing the firearms used in the attack.
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Vernon attacked Rep. Blum for blocking this so called “no fly, no buy” law, but she cited unrelated procedural votes to mislead Iowans about Blum’s record. If Democrats want a vote on a bill, they only need 218 signatures to compel one though a discharge petition. It’s clear they don’t have the support.
I’m glad Rep. Blum won’t allow publicity stunts like this to stop him from doing his job: working across the aisle to protect the American people — and their constitutional liberties.
• Krista Thier is a small-business owner and graduate of the University of Northern Iowa MBA program.