Better that a hundred bad guys get guns than one good guy have to appeal….
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has proposed the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act. The bill would authorize the Attorney General to block the transfer of guns and explosives to individuals on the national Terrorist Watchlist. From 2004 through 2014, 2,233 such purchase attempts were made, and 2,043 (91%) were successful:
In those rare denials, terror suspects were never denied a gun because they were terror suspects, but for other violations, such as “felony conviction, under indictment, adjudicated mental health, misdemeanor crime of domestic violence conviction, fugitive from justice and controlled substance abuse.”
In a political environment in which numerous lawmakers are clamoring for the United States to deny safe haven to refugees on the pretext that those refugees come from a country with bad guys in it, one would expect to hear even greater clamor for rules to prevent truly suspicious people already in the United States from getting guns and bombs. Rep. King’s legislation even includes provisions for thwarted gun buyers to appeal if they feel they’ve been improperly included on the Terrorist Watchlist.
But Rep. Kristi Noem isn’t co-sponsoring the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act. Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds haven’t said anything about it. Since 2007, Congress has refused to block terror suspects’ access to guns in the United States.
But these bills have rarely made it out of committee, in part due to vehement opposition from the National Rifle Association and its allies in Congress. The NRA objected to earlier versions of the bill, saying they were “aimed primarily at law-abiding American gun owners,” that “prohibiting the possession of firearms doesn’t stop criminals from illegally acquiring them,” and that the bills were “sponsored by gun control extremists” [Christopher Ingraham, “From 2004 to 2014, over 2,000 Terror Suspects Legally Purchased Guns in the United States,” Washington Post: Wonkblog, 2015].
The NRA blocked a previous iteration of the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act in 2009:
The NRA opposed the bill, claiming it would “deny law-abiding people due process and their Second Amendment rights.” As evidence, the NRA’s chief lobbyist cited a Justice Department report indicating that 6 percent of people on the list were included based on obsolete or extraneous FBI information. An editorial published by the NRA complained that the bill would lower “the standard measure of proof of guilt in criminal prosecutions” and that “whole segments of lawful firearms commerce could be wiped out.” The bill died in committee [William Saletan, “LaPierre the Lawyer,” Slate, 2013.01.17].
I am willing to wager that fewer than 6% of Syrian refugees are inclined to commit terrorist acts when they get to France or America (and 0% of the killers in last week’s attacks in Paris were Syrian refugees). On that slim percentage, far too many politicians will leave fellow human beings to languish in refugee camps or suffer under ISIS oppression. But suggest that we prevent terror suspects from getting guns, and Republicans briefly channel the ACLU and rediscover their commitment to “liberty” over security.