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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 Levy BoxerHillicon Valley: Ocasio-Cortez clashes with former Dem senator over gig worker bill | Software engineer indicted over Capital One breach | Lawmakers push Amazon to remove unsafe products Ocasio-Cortez blasts former Dem senator for helping Lyft fight gig worker bill Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE (D-Calif.), Mo Cowan (D-Mass.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinTensions rise in Senate's legislative 'graveyard' Senators voice support for Iran protesters but stop short of taking action GOP divided over impeachment trial strategy MORE (D-Ill.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGOP senator blocks vote on House-passed Violence Against Women Act Congress feels heat to act on youth vaping GOP senator wants Violence Against Women Act passage by year end MORE (D-Calif.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandMaloney primary challenger calls on her to return, donate previous campaign donations from Trump Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee She Should Run launches initiative to expand number of women in political process MORE (D-N.Y.), Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinRemembering leaders who put country above party Strange bedfellows oppose the filibuster Listen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home MORE (D-Mich.), Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate passes legislation supporting Hong Kong protesters Graham blocks resolution recognizing Armenian genocide after Erdoğan meeting Trump encounters GOP resistance to investigating Hunter Biden MORE (D-N.J.), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedSenators want Air Force probe into allegations military housing provider faked records Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pentagon watchdog says Syria withdrawal hurt ISIS fight | Vindman testifies on third day of public hearings | Lawmakers to wrap up defense bill talks this week Lawmakers expect to finish defense policy bill negotiations this week MORE (D-R.I.), Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTensions rise in Senate's legislative 'graveyard' 2020 Republicans accuse Schumer of snubbing legislation Schumer: Leadership trying to work out competing surprise medical bill measures MORE (D-N.Y.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseBudget process quick fixes: Fixing the wrong problem Democratic senators seek documents on Trump's alleged call for Barr press conference Senate committee advances budget reform plan MORE (D-R.I.) and Angus KingAngus KingOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows by six members Senators fear Syria damage 'irreversible' after Esper, Milley briefing 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.