Dem bill would close gun sales 'terror gap'

A prominent Senate Democrat introduced legislation this week designed to keep firearms out of the hands of suspected terrorists living in the United States.

Sponsored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), the proposal would bar those on the government's terrorist watch list from buying guns – a designation that currently doesn't disqualify them.

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Lautenberg thinks that's a mistake.

"Even if every gun sale is subjected to a background check, terrorists will still be able to buy guns legally in America unless we pass my bill to close the 'Terror Gap,'" Lautenberg said Wednesday in a statement.

"From attacks on Ft. Hood to Mumbai, terror plots carried out using guns and readily available explosives are more and more common and we must act to stop terrorists from getting these weapons and killing Americans.”

Current federal law requires licensed firearms dealers to perform background checks on potential gun buyers to weed out those prohibited from buying or owning guns, including felons, fugitives, spousal abusers, illegal immigrants and the severely mentally ill. But those on the FBI's terrorist watch list — while barred from air travel — may purchase guns legally.

Launched in 2003 in response to the 9/11 attacks, the FBI watch list compiles the names of those "known or reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activity."

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported that, of the 272 people on the terrorist watch list who attempted to buy firearms in 2010, 247 were allowed to make the purchase. The 25 denials were blocked because they fell into one of the prohibited categories.

Between 2004-2010, more than 1,300 people on the terrorist watch list were cleared to buy weapons, the GAO found.

Opponents of past efforts to close the so-called "terror gap," including the National Rifle Association, have argued that the FBI's list is not 100 percent accurate. As a result, critics say, proposals like Lautenberg's would infringe on the Second Amendment rights of those put on the list by mistake.

Lautenberg's proposal has been endorsed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerTrump riles Dems with pick for powerful EPA job Pelosi's chief of staff stepping down Time is now to address infrastructure needs MORE (D-Calif.), Mo Cowan (D-Mass.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGun proposal picks up GOP support Durbin: I had 'nothing to do' with Curbelo snub Republicans jockey for position on immigration MORE (D-Ill.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGun proposal picks up GOP support Gingrich: Banning rapid fire gun modification is ‘common sense’ House bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance MORE (D-Calif.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Overnight Energy: Dems take on Trump's chemical safety pick Dems lambaste Trump’s ‘outrageous’ EPA chemical safety pick MORE (D-N.Y.), Carl LevinCarl LevinPresident Trump, listen to candidate Trump and keep Volcker Rule Republicans can learn from John McCain’s heroism Trump and GOP wise to keep tax reform and infrastructure separate MORE (D-Mich.), Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezOvernight Health Care: House passes 20-week abortion ban | GOP gives ground over ObamaCare fix | Price exit sets off speculation over replacement You want to recall John McCain? Good luck, it will be impossible Poll: Most in NJ want Menendez to resign if found guilty MORE (D-N.J.), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Raymond ReedTop general says Iran complying with nuclear deal Top general: Transgender troops shouldn't be separated from military Dems ask FEC to create new rules in response to Russian Facebook ads MORE (D-R.I.), Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance | Puerto Rico's water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Crying on TV doesn't qualify Kimmel to set nation's gun agenda Trump knocks ‘fake’ news coverage of his trip to Puerto Rico MORE (D-N.Y.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDem senator: 'How many lives must be lost before we act?' Sen. Manchin won’t vote for Trump’s mine safety nominee Overnight Regulation: SEC chief grilled over hack | Dems urge Labor chief to keep Obama overtime rule | Russia threatens Facebook over data storage law MORE (D-R.I.) and Angus KingAngus Stanley KingSenate confirms No. 2 spot at HHS, days after Price resigns Overnight Defense: Mattis offers support for Iran deal | McCain blocks nominees over Afghanistan strategy | Trump, Tillerson spilt raises new questions about N. Korea policy Mattis: Staying in Iran deal is of US national security interest MORE (I-Maine).

The proposal has bipartisan support in the House, where GOP Rep. Pete King (N.Y.) introduced a similar proposal earlier this year.