FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: Meredith Kelly
April 28, 2013 202-360-8132
SCHUMER: BOSTON BOMBERS COULD HAVE EASILY PURCHASED WEAPONS DUE TO MAJOR LOOPHOLE THAT ALLOWS THOSE ON TERRORIST WATCH LIST TO BUY GUNS – ANNOUNCES NEW PUSH TO CLOSE LOOPHOLE
Defying Common Sense, There is Currently No Prohibition Of Those On Terrorist Watch Lists From Purchasing Guns – Suspected Terrorists Have Been Cleared To Purchase Weapons Over 1000 Times
Today, 76 Percent of All Americans and 71 Percent of NRA Members Support Closing the Terror Gap
Legislation Would Bar Those On Terrorist Watch List From Purchasing Weapons, And Will Also Aid In Common Sense Efforts To Close Gun Show Loophole
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced a new effort to close shocking loopholes that allow those who are on the nation’s terrorist watch list to purchase guns. Under current federal law, the federal government cannot stop the sale of guns or explosives to known or suspected terrorists unless they meet one of nine other disqualifying criteria, such as being a convicted felon or domestic abuser. Therefore, the Boston bombers and other terrorists would have would have had no problems purchasing a virtually unlimited amount of weapons from gun stores, despite potentially being on various national watch lists. Schumer today announced that he would be pushing legislation to bar those on the terrorist watch list from purchasing a gun – a common sense step.
In addition to preventing suspected terrorists from obtaining guns, Schumer has been a longtime leading advocate of closing the loophole that allows people to buy guns online, at gun shows and in private transactions without a background check. That loophole allows those who are barred from obtaining guns – felons, spousal abusers, the adjudicated mentally ill – to purchase one without difficulty. Schumer said that adding suspected terrorists to the list of people legally barred from buying a gun would help efforts to close the gun show loophole as well, by setting up a clear distinction: keeping the gun show loophole open would allow terrorists to buy guns and closing it would prevent them from doing so. Schumer pointed to a June 2011 video in which Adam Gadahn, an American-born al Qaeda member, urged other terrorists to exploit weakness in federal gun laws as an easy means of obtaining weapons for use in terrorist attacks.
“It is so simple, it seems that there could be no possible disagreement – if you are on a terrorist watch list, you shouldn’t be able to waltz into a gun store and purchase a deadly weapons,” said Schumer. “Anyone who is added to the terrorist watch list should also be added to the NICS database, along with felons, spousal abusers, and the mentally ill. While it is unclear where the Boston bombers obtained their weapons, one thing is crystal clear – they would have likely had no problem walking into a gun store and purchasing whatever they wanted. ”
The “terror gap” is present in federal law and this loophole doesn’t go unexploited. A 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that known or suspected terrorists were cleared to buy firearms 1,321 times between February 2004 and December 2010. Terrorists have even publicly urged other terrorists to exploit this loophole.
The legislation, sponsored by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), gives the Attorney General the discretionary authority to deny the issuance of a gun, explosive, or permit after a background check reveals that the potential buyer is a known or suspected terrorist. It also requires the Attorney General to create guidelines that outline the circumstances when that authority would be exercised, while also affording the terrorist due process safeguards and protecting the sensitive information contained in terrorist watch lists.
At present, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) does not reveal information about a potential buyer’s status as a known or suspected terrorist, instead containing the buyer’s criminal and mental health records. This new legislation would add terrorist affiliations to this database, which would act as a red flag for weapons dealers. When a background check reveals a terrorist association, the Attorney General can then step in and utilize their discretionary authority to deny issuance of a weapon.
Support for the closing of the “terror gap” has come from both sides of the aisle. Though the bill is being introduced by two Democrats, a similar bill received support from President George W. Bush in November 2009, and the House companion version of the bill is being introduced by New York Representative Peter King, a Republican. In addition to bipartisan backing from politicians, the bill has also seen support from lobbying groups and the American people. Today, 76 percent of all Americans and 71 percent of NRA members support closing the terror gap. Schumer noted that the overwhelming popular support from both sides of the aisle, as well as both sides of the gun control debate, makes the passing of this bill a necessity for the protection of the American people.