WASHINGON --- Two days ago, when White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked for the Obama Administration’s position on a bill (S.1317) to give the Attorney General the authority to stop some gun sales to some suspected terrorists, he told reporters he didn’t know and would get back to them.
Yesterday, the White House released this statement: “While the FBI and other law enforcement agencies already receive notification when a person on a terror watch-list seeks to buy a gun and are committed to vigorously investigating such cases, many people are legitimately concerned that existing law still allows some people on watch-lists to buy guns. The Justice Department is reviewing its options for addressing this issue and for working with Congress to resolve it.”
This statement doesn't mesh with what Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress last fall. “We will support that legislation,” Holder said at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 18, 2009.
“It seems incongruous to me that we would bar certain people from flying airplanes, because they are on the terrorist watch list, and yet we'd still allow them to possess weapons. I think that the legislation that was initially proposed by the Bush administration was well conceived. And we will continue to support that.”
Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, today urged the White House to support the proposed legislation.
“The nation’s top law enforcement officer should have the power to stop gun sales to suspected terrorists if he or she deems it necessary to prevent attacks on this country,” Helmke said. “President Obama should make it clear that he strongly endorses his Attorney General’s recommendation from last November on this targeted legislation. It was supported by the Bush Administration and, according to a recent poll, more than 84 percent of gun owners.”
President Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, offered strong support for this proposal at a Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence event in May 2007, before President Obama’s election.
Then-Congressman Emmanuel said the proposal was not only good policy but also a political winner: “As my old boss used to say, give me that vote, and throw me into that briar patch; I’ll make politics out of that every day. Because if it’s between that terrorist list and the NRA, I know where America is going to be every time.”