Mayors Against Illegal Guns is pushing Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R, NH), Jeff Flake (R, AZ), and Max Baucus (D, MT) to support a bill that would make people on the terror watch list automatically fail background checks.
Currently, individuals on the FBI’s no fly list aren’t included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Essentially, these people are dangerous enough that they shouldn’t be allowed on planes but it’s perfectly acceptable for them to go out and buy a handgun.
Critics have called the discrepancy a “terror gap” that allows terrorists to easily acquire weapons that can be used to harm U.S. citizens.
In fact, 963 background checks were performed on people in the terror watch list between 2004 and 2009. A full 90 percent of those people were able to acquire a firearm, while the remaining 10 percent were denied because of reasons that had nothing to do with the terror watch list.
This presents a complicated legal situation for legislators. On the one hand, allowing potential terrorists to have handguns could be dangerous. On the other hand, denying people the ability to buy a firearm based on suspicion violates the innocent until proven guilty principle at the center of the justice system.
The National Rifle Association has expressed their distaste for the bill, arguing that bombs and explosions have historically been terrorists’ weapons of choice. The NRA’s assertion that “There’s no evidence terrorists are buying guns” could be entirely false, however, due incidents like the 2009 Fort Hood shooting. Additionally, some people might argue that shooting sprees like the Newtown tragedy count as terrorist acts.
If MAIG gets its wish, lawmakers will back Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s (D, NJ) measures that allow the Justice Department to deny people on the terror watch list the ability to buy a gun.
What’s your take? Should these suspected terrorists be denied the ability to buy a gun even if they haven’t broken any laws?
Source: The Hill