JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Just days after he shot 11 people — killing three inside NAS Pensacola — officials said the Saudi national suspected of the crime legally purchased a weapon that was used to commit what is now being investigated as a suspected act of terrorism.
Mohammed Alshamrani, 21, was identified by the FBI as the killer. He was a member of the Saudi Air Force who was at the base for aviation training.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has voiced his concern over what he describes as a loophole in the law that allowed Alshamrani legal access to a firearm used to commit a deadly mass shooting inside the gates of NAS Pensacola Friday morning.
“Well, that’s a federal loophole that he took advantage of. I’m a big supporter of the second amendment, but the second amendment applies so that we, the American people, can keep and bear arms. It does not apply to Saudi Arabians,” DeSantis said during a press conference Sunday.
According to U.S. law, foreign nationals can purchase and possess guns if they are admitted into the U.S. for lawful hunting and sporting purposes with a U.S. issued hunting license or permit. They can also legally obtain a gun if they are an official of a foreign government or distinguished foreign visitor designated by the U.S. State Dept. Alshamrani falls under the latter explanation.
Former Duval County Sheriff and current congressman John Rutherford says the conversation should be less about gun laws and more about the vetting process that allowed Alshamrani into the country.
“I’m not going to worry too much about him being able to legally buy a gun when we’re putting him in a jet aircraft that he controls,” Rutherford told News4Jax.
That sentiment was echoed by Jacksonville gun rights attorney Eric Friday.
“Governor DeSantis has been great on the second amendment, but I have to disagree here. The fact is the question we need to be asking is not where he got the gun or how did he get the gun or where foreign national in the military we are training should be allowed to have guns. We were about to put this person into an aircraft,” Friday said.
Although Alshamrani could legally own a gun, he was still prohibited from bringing the weapon on base.
In the wake of that attack on the base, U.S. lawmakers are now seeking to suspend and review U.S. training of Saudi military members.