Saturday, June 20, 2009

GAO shows our gun laws are weak

People on the government’s terrorist watch list tried to buy guns nearly 1,000 times in the last five years, and federal authorities cleared the purchases 9 times out of 10 because they had no legal way to stop them, according to a new government report.

In one case, a person on the list was able to buy more than 50 pounds of explosives.

The new statistics, compiled in a report from the Government Accountability Office that is scheduled for public release next 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 cannot 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,” Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, the New Jersey Democrat who requested the study, said in an interview.
Sen. Lautenberg introduced legislation in 2007 that would have given the attorney general the discretion to block gun sales to people on terror watch lists, but it was stalled by the NRA, of course. He will re-introduce it on Monday and hopefully Democrats will have the balls to take it up, but I doubt it. There's few lobbies they fear more than the gun lobby:
Can new evidence that high-powered US firearms are fueling Mexican drug violence change the political course of gun control in Washington?

Not likely, a number of gun experts say.

The Government Accountability Office information that 87 percent of seized guns given to US authorities by Mexican officials come from the US shouldn't come as a surprise, says Bill Vizzard, a criminologist at the California State University in Sacramento. "We're the largest legal gun market in the world."

Many of the firearms used to kill thousands of police and government officials in Mexico come from gun shops and gun shows in Southwest border states, the report says...

"Washington has to pacify the Mexican government, and, rightfully, the Mexican government is pointing at the US saying, 'You guys keep talking about our drugs going to the US. What about your guns coming down here?' " says Vizzard, adding, "And they legitimately have a beef."

After the landmark Heller decision last year – in which the Supreme Court affirmed Second Amendment gun rights – Democratic leadership has stepped back from pressing the gun control issue, at least at the national level. While popular in urban centers, gun control laws can have electoral implications in rural hunting states where Democrats made huge gains last election.

If anything, gun rights have expanded on the heels of last year's Heller decision. The Democrat-dominated Congress this year agreed to allow Americans to carry concealed weapons into national parks and wildlife refuges.

But the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence hopes that today's Congressional hearings on the GAO report will have some effect on efforts to close the so-called "gun show loophole" where guns can be sold without background checks.

"The extremist gun lobby should no longer be permitted to dictate our nation's gun policy," said Brady Center president Paul Helmke, in a statement.

Amen. If Republicans and Democrats really want to really be tough when it comes to the war on terrorism and the war on drugs, they need to get behind common sense gun laws instead of placating fringe gun nuts.

UPDATE: It's not just Mexico.


Nat-Wu said...

Dude, giving up our guns means the Russians will invade and we'll become a socialist state! Will you be griping about the domestic terrorists and crazies then?

Anonymous said...

you can't get on an airplane, but you can buy a gun? *brain explosion*