May 10, 2011 7:06 pm ET - by Chris Brown
Four days before the death of Osama bid Laden, the Associated Press reported that 247 people on the terror watch list legally purchased guns in 2010.
More than 200 people suspected of ties to terrorism bought guns in the U.S. last year legally, FBI figures show.
The 247 people who were allowed to buy weapons did so after going through required background checks as required by federal law.
It is not illegal for people listed on the government's terror watch list to buy weapons. For years, that has bothered Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., who is trying again to change the law to keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists.
In addition to Sen. Lautenberg, both the Bush and Obama administrations
sought to give the attorney general authority to block gun sales to suspected
terrorists. Yet despite bipartisan support as well as polling showing that 82 percent of the NRA's own members support closing the "terror loophole," the National Rifle
Association has opposed efforts keep people on terror watch lists from
The NRA's April 19 fact sheet describing its reasoning for this position suggests terrorists are already largely prohibited from purchasing firearms under the current law and that the proposals for change have originated from "gun control extremists". In fact, the AP's reporting shows that between February 2004 and December 2010 ninety percent of attempted purchases by people on the terror watch list were allowed to proceed.
Huffington Post contributor Cliff Schecter recently wrote about the very real threat possessed by suspected terrorists with largely unfettered access to guns:
If you don't think we should get on this forthwith, just remember, there are those who will want to take revenge for bin Laden's killing. And there are those who will continue to plan attacks on the United States because it is such a tempting target. They may not have the capabilities to pull off a large scale attack like the one on 9/11. But by allowing them to purchase Jared Loughner's Glock with an assault clip, or (God help us) explosives, we are asking for trouble.
Hopefully most of remember what happened in Mumbai, India. It only took guns, some explosives, a few cell phones, and a hijacked fishing vessel to terrorize an entire city and commit mass murder at train stations, luxury hotels and in the streets. Could it happen here?
In the wake of the AP's report and bin Laden's death, officials are issuing new security warnings and al Qaeda has pledged that they will "continue to hunt the Americans and their operatives inside and outside their country." In light of these developments, Sen. Lautenberg has renewed his efforts to address this glaring loophole. We'll have to wait to see how many other members of Congress will prioritize keeping weapons away from possible terrorists over standing in lockstep with NRA extremism.
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