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Bill Press: All talk on terror and guns

Bill Press: All talk on terror and guns
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Boy, that was close. 

For a while, gun nuts with the National Rifle Association in Congress were worried. After last Wednesday’s massacre in San Bernardino, Calif., it looked like they might finally have to go along with new gun safety legislation. 

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How could they resist the growing clamor for tougher gun laws? For the first time since 1920, The New York Times ran an editorial on its front page, demanding new gun control measures. Latest polls show 93 percent of the American people support universal background checks.

Suddenly, everybody was talking about gun control again. And it looked like the San Bernardino slaughter might finally be the crack in the dam, the one event that galvanized so much public support for ending the easy access to guns in this country that cowardly politicians would have to go along.

But then came word from the FBI that the Muslim couple suspected in the shooting had been radicalized. 

Relieved NRA supporters jubilantly crowed: “See, we told you so. This is all about terrorism. Guns have nothing to do with it!” Presidential candidate Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBiden tries to erase Trump's 'America First' on world stage Cotton, Pentagon chief tangle over diversity training in military GOP senators press Justice Department to compare protest arrests to Capitol riot MORE even insisted that the answer is not fewer guns but more guns: “You don’t stop bad guys by taking away our guns. You stop bad guys by using our guns.”

How simplistic. And how wrong. 

San Bernardino was an act of terrorism: an act of domestic terrorism committed with guns. And you can’t address one without the other.

Yes, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were home-grown terrorists, unhappy living in the United States and radicalized by propaganda from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to kill innocent Americans. But they were only able to carry out their carnage because of easy access to guns and ammunition they should never have been able to buy in the first place.

Don’t let the NRA paint us into a false corner. We don’t have to choose between preventing terror and preventing gun violence. They are two sides of the same issue. 

It’s not one or the other. We have to do both. We must do whatever we can to prevent acts of terror. At the same time, we must do whatever we can to block easy access to weapons of terror. 

What’s especially shameful is that so many members of Congress talk tough about terrorists, all the while refusing to actually do anything about it. 

Last February, for example, President Obama asked Congress to approve a new authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against ISIS. Ten months later, Congress has refused even to debate the issue. 

It’s the same thing with gun safety. As recently as last Thursday, the day after the latest mass murder, the Senate voted against expanding background checks and preventing people on the no-fly list from buying guns. Our lawmakers have consistently voted against renewing the ban on assault weapons like the AR-15 used by the killers in San Bernardino.

Rhetoric is not enough. Members of Congress are not serious about protecting Americans from ISIS until they approve a new AUMF. They’re not serious about protecting Americans from gun violence until they approve sensible new gun safety measures.    

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “The Obama Hate Machine.”