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Exploiting Terrorism Concerns to Further Gun Control

Written by Ann Shibler on June 02 2010.

In early May there was a hearing in the Senate committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs that gave perennial gun-grabber Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.),  Rep. Peter King (R- N.Y.) and a few cronies a platform for the subject “Terrorists and Guns: The Nature of the Threat and Proposed Reforms.” That subject is tied into Lautenberg’s S. 2820 PROTEC Act of 2009 (Preserving Records of Terrorist & Criminal Transactions Act) and S. 1317 Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act, and Rep. Peter King’s matching version in the House, H.R. 2159.

The hearing was top heavy with supporters of these latest watch list and gun-grabbing bills. In addition to Lautenberg and King, were gun control supporters Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City; his police commissioner, Raymond Kelly; FBI assistant director Daniel Roberts; Eileen Larence from Homeland Security and Justice, Government Accountability Office; Sandy MacArthur, LAPD; and lone gun control opposer Aaron Titus from the Liberty Coalition.

Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman opened up the meeting by noting “the only two terrorist attacks on America since 9/11 that have been carried out and taken American lives were with firearms,” citing the 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, and at an Army recruiting station in Little Rock, Ark. “The easy availability of lethal weapons ensures that these homegrown terrorists can legally obtain sufficient firepower to cause terrible damage,” he said. Interesting that Lieberman equates crime with guns, not the actions of people, and describes the shooters as “homegrown terrorists.”  It would be more accurate to describe them as loyal to other nations and ideologies and willing to commit terrorist acts in support of those foreign nations and ideologies even though they lived here for various lengths of time. American patriots or constitutionalists, they aren’t.

Rep. King claimed that his bill is more than justified because of last year’s Ft. Hood murders, “where individuals suspected of terrorist activity legally obtained weapons that were used to kill innocent Americans.” But the alleged sole shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was not suspected of terrorist activity during his military career before the shooting. However, internal Army reports did indicate that the Army was aware of his radical Islamic tendencies.

The New York City bomber was also used as an example of why gun control is so imperative. But that particular failed attempt did not rely on commercially made explosives or firearms — a homemade gasoline-propane bomb was used instead.  And to be further noted is the fact that Faisal Shahzad was on a terror watch list for almost a decade, being dropped even before he received his citizenship in 2009.

Even if the newly promoted bills were to become federal law, they would not have affected the Ft. Hood shooter or the New York City bomber in the least.

There were other more apparent discrepancies in the day’s hearing. Rep. King testified that since 2004, of the 400,000 individuals on the list, which others say has now ballooned to over a million, “1,225 NICS checks were a match with terror watch list records. Of those matched, 91 percent of the transfers were permitted to go through due to a lack of other prohibiting criteria. This means that over 1,100 legal purchases of weapons or explosives were made over a six-year period by individuals on a terror watch list.” The 1,225 checks were attributed to 650 individuals, according to the GAO. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) questioned Lautenberg on just how many of those “terrorists” were dangerous enough to have been brought up on terrorism charges. There was no response from Lautenberg.

The testimony that really laid bare the inconsistencies of the basis for the proposed legislation was Aaron Titus’ of the Liberty Coalition who said S. 1317 should be “renamed the ‘Gun Owners Are Probably Terrorists Act,”’ because the power the legislation would give the Attorney General to deny someone their Second Amendment right would be based on mere suspicion and belief of terrorist inclinations. Titus also said the NICS would be turned into a de facto National Firearm Registry, collecting detailed personal information with “no requirement to ever delete the information.”

Titus made a common sense observation that, “As a felon, convicted terrorists should not, and cannot under current law, own guns.” Much of the testimony seemed to focus on S. 1317/H.R. 2159 and according to a May 5 article posted by the Milwaukee Examiner:

The bill also reduces Due Process protections for gun dealers. S. 1317, strips gun dealers of their right to appeal a revoked license in court, and replaces it with the right to notice and hearing before the Attorney General.

By 2009 that number (on watch lists which would become banned lists) had grown to 1.1 million identities and approximately 400,000 unique individuals. Bloated watch lists create more false positives, The lack of transparency leaves the public to wonder who these people might be, whether one out of every 750 people in the United States is a suspected terrorist, or whether the drastic increase in the database is due to poor design and over-collection.

Based on the title of S.1317, one would think that convicted terrorists were allowed to own guns. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, “convicted felons [including terrorists] , fugitives, unlawful drug users, and aliens illegally or unlawfully in the United States” are prohibited by federal law from receiving firearms.

Lautenberg said his bill is “not anti-gun. It’s anti-terrorist.” Mayor Bloomberg didn’t cite the overused “loophole” term, but instead said “It’s imperative that Congress close this terror gap in our gun laws and close it quickly.” Clever change of phraseology -- who wouldn’t want to close a “terror gap”? While NY Police commissioner Kelly blatantly stated, “From the standpoint of the NYPD, it would also complement the aggressive anti-gun strategies we already have in place.” Kelly also cited the assault in Mumbai, India in November 2008 that produced extensive casualties as a reason to clamp down on American citizens’ gun ownership.

After looking at the testimony and the facts, are S. 2820 and S. 1317/H.R. 2159 really anti-terrorist in nature?

Gun control advocates have but one agenda and that is to relieve American citizens of the protected right to keep and bear arms guaranteed under the Second Amendment. And they are willing to do this using any illogic, misleading statements, or outright falsehoods to accomplish their task. 

Every American citizen, active patriot or not, should be motivated by such disingenuous rhetoric to oppose all this legislation vigorously and persistently. Contact your representative and senators about all three pieces of proposed legislation, S. 1317, H.R. 2159, and S. 2820, and let them know you adamantly oppose any and all attempts to restrict gun ownership through various unconstitutional strategies.

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