As you might expect it was a wild week on the political front and there was no lack topics to be discussed. One of the more interesting items brought up came from one the most respected people in law enforcement NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.
He was a guest on NBC’s Meet The Press and he told Chuck Todd that is Congress wants to really to help law enforcement officials in the terror fight they could address the bill that allows people on the terrorist watch list legally purchase guns.
At this moment people on the U.S. government’s terrorist watch list often can’t board commercial airliners because they might blow them up, but they can walk into a gun store and legally buy pistols and powerful military-style rifles. Something that police chiefs in New York, Washington, D.C. and in other major cities in the United States find distressing at the very least.
With the talk both on Capitol Hill and all along the GOP Presidential trail about keeping Syrian refugees out of the United States, it seems that some Republican wants to keep people already on the terrorist watch list from legally buying a gun.
It is an issue that the National Riffle Association has fought tooth and nail every time a bill has been brought up in Congress.
Sensing a political opening from last week’s Paris attacks, Democrats and some moderate Republicans are renewing calls for Congress to pass legislation aimed at preventing terrorists from buying guns. Similar bills, including a post-9/11 measure backed by the Justice Department under Republican President George W. Bush was shutdown for years, thanks in large part to opposition from gun-rights groups and congressional Republicans.
A legal loophole allows suspected terrorists on the government’s no-fly list to legally buy guns, but a bill to fix that will likely wither on the vine. The federal Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act is making its way through Congress at this very moment. But even in the wake of last week’s terrorist killing in Paris and the ISIS threats to attack both Washington, D. C. along with New York City chances are slim that it can pass.
“Anything which they [NRA] feel restricts the use or the ability to retain a gun they’re opposed to,” bill co-sponsor Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.) told the New York Daily News. “It’s sort of a knee-jerk reaction,” he said Tuesday. “The National Rifle Association is strongly opposed to it and the fact is we have only a handful of Republican co-sponsors, means it is not likely to pass.”
King’s bill the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act would require federally licensed gun dealers would be barred from selling firearms to people on the terrorist list. Just as they are already prohibited from sales to people with felony convictions or serious mental illnesses. The proposed legislation would not prevent transactions that don’t involve licensed dealers, such as those between private individuals at gun shows or many sales online, which don’t currently involve background checks.
King told the Daily News there’s “just too much opposition” from pro-gun GOP House members, even though the proposal is backed by the White House. There are roughly 700,000 names on the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database — commonly known as the Terrorist Watchlist. It includes the names of both domestic and international suspects identified through intelligence and law enforcement investigation.
Not a single gun buyer on the list was turned away because they posed a threat to the American populace as a potential terrorist. Reasons for their rejections included “felony conviction, under indictment, adjudicated mental health, misdemeanor crime of domestic violence conviction, fugitive from justice and controlled substance abuse,” said the GAO in its summary.
According to a March analysis by the Government Accountability Office, people on the FBI’s consolidated Terrorist Watchlist successfully passed the background check required to purchase firearms more than 90 percent of the time, with more than 2,043 approvals between 2004 and 2014. The office is an investigative branch of Congress.
Statistics researched by the Daily News showed that in the past two years 2013-14, the number of successful buyers rose to 94% — with 455 suspects buying weapons and just 30 denied as allowed under current laws.
“It is hard to believe that anyone could defend that someone on the Terrorist Watchlist should get a gun, no questions asked,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “I can’t believe that our Republican colleagues would block this now.”
Unlike Representative King, his colleague in the House, Senator Schumer told the Daily News that there was a “good chance” that his Republican Senate colleagues will have “no choice but to pass it, despite NRA opposition …We’re going to get it to the floor and my guess is it’ll pass.”
Meanwhile, when the Daily News attempted to bring up the subject Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pleaded ignorance about the bill which has been around Congress for nine months and he was not alone as a number of other GOP senators declined to offer an opinion to the paper.
News Talk Florida will continue to follow the progress of the bill.