247 on terror watch list bought guns

Hundreds of people on the FBI's Terrorist Watch List were cleared to purchase firearms in 2010, prompting at least one lawmaker and Capitol Hill gun-reformer to reiterate a call for tougher rules.

Of the 272 individuals on the Terrorist Watch List who attempted to buy firearms last year, 247 were allowed to make the purchase, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported Wednesday.

ADVERTISEMENT

The findings were not overlooked by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who slammed the current law as too lenient and urged Congress to close what gun reformers call the "terror gap."

"It defies common sense that people on the terror watch list continue to be cleared to buy weapons legally in the United States,” Lautenberg, who requested the GAO report, said Thursday in a statement. "This is a homeland-security issue, not a gun issue, and there's no reason we shouldn't be able to stop a terrorist from buying a dangerous weapon in the United States."

Under current law, licensed gun dealers must perform background checks on all potential buyers to screen for those ineligible to possess firearms, including felons, illegal immigrants, spousal abusers and the severely mentally ill.

The list of ineligibles, however, does not include those on the FBI's Terrorist Watch List, which houses data on people "known or appropriately suspected to be or have been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism."

The 25 individuals on the terrorist list who were denied approval last year were disqualified for reasons that included felony conviction and domestic violence.

"There is no basis to automatically prohibit a person from possessing firearms or explosives because they appear on the terrorist watch list," the GAO reported. 

In January, Lautenberg introduced legislation empowering state attorneys general to deny gun sales to those on the Terrorist Watch List if state officials suspect they would use the weapons for terrorist attacks.
 
The legislation is co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats pledge to fight Trump detention policy during trip to border Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations MORE (Ill.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations Hillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei MORE (Calif.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandHarris faces pressure to define policy proposals Democratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage MORE (N.Y.), Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinListen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home House Democrats poised to set a dangerous precedent with president’s tax returns The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — White House to 'temporarily reinstate' Acosta's press pass after judge issues order | Graham to take over Judiciary panel | Hand recount for Florida Senate race MORE (Mich.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseHillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Senate passes bill making hacking voting systems a federal crime Overnight Energy: Scientists flee USDA as research agencies move to Kansas City area | Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules to put industry reps on boards | New rule to limit ability to appeal pollution permits MORE (R.I.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedPentagon's No. 2 policy official to retire Senate panel advances Pentagon chief, Joint Chiefs chairman nominees Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations MORE (R.I.), Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDem senator describes 'overcrowded quarters,' 'harsh odor' at border facilities Top Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens MORE (D-N.Y.) and Barbara Boxer (Calif.).

The National Rifle Association did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday, but the nation's largest gun lobby has opposed past efforts to disqualify those on the government's terrorist list from buying firearms. The group argues that such a rule would violate the Second Amendment rights of those put on the list by mistake.