People on terrorist watch list can buy guns
NRA opposes senator's proposal to tighten rules on gun purchases.
The New York Times
Sunday, June 21, 2009
WASHINGTON — People on the government's terrorist watch list tried to buy guns nearly 1,000 times in the past five years, and federal authorities cleared the purchases nine times out of 10 because they had no legal way to stop them, a government report says.
The new statistics, compiled in a report from the Government Accountability Office that is scheduled for release this week, draw attention to an odd divergence in federal law: People placed on the government's terrorist watch list can be stopped from getting on a plane or getting a visa, but they can't be stopped from buying a gun.
Gun purchases must be approved unless federal officials can find some other disqualification of the would-be buyer, like being a felon, an illegal immigrant or a drug addict.
"This is a glaring omission, and it's a security issue," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., who requested the study.
Lautenberg said he plans to introduce legislation Monday that would give the attorney general the discretion to block gun sales to people on terror watch lists.
Gun rights advocates said showing up on a terrorist watch list shouldn't necessarily be grounds for being denied a gun.
"We're concerned about the quality and the integrity of the list," National Rifle Association spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said. "We believe law-abiding people who are on the list by error should not be arbitrarily denied their civil rights" under the Second Amendment.
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