A picture of Representative Nita M. Lowey
Nita L.
Democrat NY 17

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  • Deny Gun Sales to Suspected Terrorists

    by Representative Nita M. Lowey

    Posted on 2015-12-08

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    LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, Federal law prohibits nine categories of dangerous individuals from purchasing a firearm. This includes convicted felons, domestic abusers, and the seriously mentally ill. Yet, while we prevent those on the terrorist watch list from boarding planes, they are welcome in gun stores.

    The Government Accountability Office found that between 2004 and 2014, individuals on terrorist watch lists tried to purchase guns or explosives 2,233 times. Of those attempts, 2,043, an astounding 91 percent, were approved.

    Terrorists are knowingly exploiting this gap. In fact, in 2011, Adam Gadahn, an American-born member of al Qaeda, issued a video urging violent followers to exploit weaknesses in U.S. gun laws.

    Adam Gadahn was not alone. In 2009, Daniel Patrick Boyd was arrested and charged with conspiring to murder U.S. military personnel at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia. Boyd, who was under investigation by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, had amassed an arsenal of assault rifles and had even traveled to the Middle East to meet with militants to plan future attacks.

    It is impossible to hear these facts and not think of the recent horrific attacks in Paris. France has extremely strict gun laws, so it is likely that the terrorists in question turned to black market sources for the weapons they used. But here in the United States, suspects on the terrorist watch list can legally purchase firearms. It simply doesn't make any sense at all.

    That is why I am a proud cosponsor of H.R. 1076, the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act. This bill, along with an amendment that I have introduced in the Appropriations Committee, would give [[Page H9032]] the U.S. Attorney General the authority to block suspects on the terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms.

    Given the repeated mass shootings in the United States and the ongoing threat of terrorism, it is hard to believe that four times, Republicans on the Appropriations Committee have said no to closing this dangerous loophole.

    In 2011, I introduced my amendment. It was rejected. In 2013, I tried again. It was rejected. Again, in 2014, rejected. Even this year, in 2015, with the tremendous threats we face as a Nation, my amendment was rejected for the fourth time.

    Even NRA members agree we should pass this commonsense measure. A 2012 poll found that 76 percent of gun owners, including 71 percent of NRA members, support prohibiting people on terrorist watch lists from purchasing guns. Yet, the NRA's stranglehold on the majority in Congress has prevented my amendment from passing and the bipartisan stand-alone bill from even being considered.

    The time has long since come for us to cross the aisle and work together to make our country safer. Let's close this glaring loophole immediately and arm our law enforcement with the ability to deny gun sales to suspected terrorists.


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