Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland) today called on the Appropriations Committee to close a gaping loophole in gun safety by empowering the Attorney General to prevent individuals on federal terrorist watch lists from purchasing guns that may be used in commission of a terrorist act.
"We prohibit convicted felons, domestic abusers, and the mentally ill from owning or purchasing firearms," said Lowey. "Why on earth would we allow known or suspected terrorists to buy guns? The American public rightly expects the government to keep potential terrorists off airplanes. There is no reason why they should be allowed to purchase weapons that could be used in commission of an act of terrorism."
"Since September 11, counterterrorism investigators have worked constantly to stop threats from Al Qaeda and lone-wolf terrorists," said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, co-chair of the bipartisan Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition. "The Bush and Obama administrations have both asked that the FBI be given the discretion to intervene when terror suspects try to buy guns or explosives from gun dealers, but Congress has refused to act. I'd like to thank Congresswoman Lowey for urging her colleagues to have the courage to finally pass this common-sense national security measure."
A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that between February 2004 and February 2010, 1,228 individuals on terrorist watch lists underwent background checks to purchase firearms or explosives. An astounding 91 percent were approved. An additional 200 similar transactions took place between March and December of last year, and several of the prospective buyers were in the FBI's Known and Suspected Terrorist Files and on TSA's No-Fly List.
Convicted felons, domestic abusers, and the seriously mentally ill are prohibited from buying or owning firearms, but no prohibition currently exists against known or suspected terrorist from buying or owning firearms.
Lowey's amendment would give the Attorney General the authority to deny the sale of firearms when there is reason to believe buyers may use weapons in connection with terrorism.