Terror Watch Lists and Gun Purchases

The New York Times is scooping Lautenberg's newest anti-gun initiatives, this time to encourage keeping lists of gun buyers:

Dozens of terror suspects on federal watch lists were allowed to buy firearms legally in the United States last year, according to a Congressional investigation that points up major vulnerabilities in federal gun laws.

Well, forty-seven purchases out of fifty-eight attempts over nine months. How many other legal purchases of firearms were made in that same period? And who has characterized this as “major vulnerabilities” other than a reporter with an agenda, perhaps one Senator who a history of anti-gun bills, and a anti-gun lobbying organization? What is the percieved value of combatting these perceived vulnerabilities versus the privacy rights of millions of people? In 2003 126,000 purchases were denied out of 7,831,000 applications, so “millions” is the right word to use, here.

People suspected of being members of a terrorist group are not automatically barred from legally buying a gun, and the investigation, conducted by the Government Accountability Office, indicated that people with clear links to terrorist groups had regularly taken advantage of this gap.

Last I checked, if there was a clear link, we charged them with a crime under the PATRIOT Act. If the link is unclear, however, then there's not enough evidence to charge them with a crime. Is that enough evidence to infringe upon their rights?

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, law enforcement officials and gun control groups have voiced increasing concern about the prospect of a terrorist walking into a gun shop, legally buying an assault rifle or other type of weapon and using it in an attack.

Buying an assault rifle, under the National Firearms Act of 1934, is not as trivial as buying a regular firearm. This is the standard conflation of “assault weapon” and “assault rifle” regularly practiced by anti-gun pundits. Since the press is regularly corrected on this issue, misuse of this terminology must be deliberate. Buying an assault rifle (made before 1986, that is, those made after that are just plain unobtainable by legal means) requires BATFE sign off, as well as the sign off of your local Chief Law Enforcement Officer (usually your sheriff), paying the $200 tax, undergoing inspection, and a long list of annoyances that Lautenberg would like applied to regular firearms purchases.

One would like to talk to these unattributed law enforcement officials, too.

F.B.I. officials maintain that they are hamstrung by laws and policies restricting the use of gun-buying records because of concerns over the privacy rights of gun owners.

What? More unattributed officials? I'm sorry, but I can't take them seriously unless they are identified. So far all I really see here is the bias of Eric Lichtblau.

The legal debate over how gun records are used became particularly contentious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, when it was disclosed that the Justice Department and John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, had blocked the F.B.I. from using the gun-buying records to match against some 1,200 suspects who were detained as part of the Sept. 11 investigation. Mr. Ashcroft maintained that using the records in a criminal investigation would violate the federal law that created the system for instant background gun checks, but Justice Department lawyers who reviewed the issue said they saw no such prohibition.

An easy spot-check of liberal bias is the deliberate call-out of John Ashcroft. More unattributed lawyers in the Department of Justice. Of course, the reasons for lack of attribution (hidden in the details on the second page) is because the report has not yet been released.

Ultimately Lautenberg's bill is really all about mandating long-term record-keeping of those who might buy guns. It's all about back door registration of gun owners. So, even though the system might have allowed those on watch lists buy guns, Lautenberg really only seems to care about getting guns out of everyone's hands, little by little.

(Hat tip to Just One Minute.)

Josh Poulson

Posted Tuesday, Mar 8 2005 02:51 PM

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Guns, Politics


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