ACTION ALERT: Gun Control Can Make Americans Safer
December 3, 2015
Credo Action & Every Town for Gun Safety
After the recent attacks in Paris and Beirut, Republican politicians used hateful, Islamophobic rhetoric to call for xenophobic restrictions on refugees -- all allegedly in the name of keeping Americans safe. Yet right-wing Republicans in Congress have done nothing to pass any reasonable proposals to protect our communities from the senseless reign of domestic terrorism that kills more than 33,000 Americans every year.
How Mitch McConnell
Can Make Americans Safer
Sign the Petition:
To Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
(November 29, 2015) -- "Take real action to protect American lives by helping pass a package of gun control legislation that includes closing the NRA-backed terror gap that allows known terror suspects to purchase guns."
After the recent attacks in Paris and Beirut, Republican politicians used hateful, Islamophobic rhetoric to call for xenophobic restrictions on refugees -- all allegedly in the name of keeping Americans safe.
Yet right-wing Republicans in Congress have done nothing to pass any reasonable proposals to protect our communities from senseless domestic terrorism. And Friday's mass shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood health center, alongside last week's white supremacist attack on a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis, is a stark reminder that horrific gun violence perpetrated by domestic terrorists continues to be one of the most real and present threats to Americans' safety.
As President Obama said in response to the latest tragedy in Colorado, "The last thing Americans should have to do, over the holidays or any day, is comfort the families of people killed by gun violence," adding, "This is not normal. We can't let it become normal."
President Obama continued, "[W]e have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them. Period. Enough is enough."1
It's outrageous that Republicans are so eager to fear-monger and race bait on behalf of our "safety" but refuse to do anything to combat the epidemic of gun violence that kills more than 33,000 Americans every year. If Republicans actually want to make us safer, they must do everything they can to pass a comprehensive package of gun control reforms, including a bill to close the NRA-backed terror gap which has allowed more than 2,000 people on the terror watch list to purchase guns since 2004. 2
With Republican hypocrisy currently in the media spotlight, it's time to ramp up the pressure on them to finally act.
Tell Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: Act to make us safer. Bring real gun control legislation to the floor for a vote.
The xenophobic policies offered up by Republicans in the wake of the Paris and Beirut attacks are simply jaw-dropping:
* Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz suggested bombing innocent civilians in the Middle East.3
* Twenty-six Republican governors have vowed, without any legal authority, to block Syrian refugees from their states. 4
* Presidential candidate Jeb Bush joined Sen. Cruz in proposing that we block Syrian refugees based on religion -- admitting Christian but not Muslim refugees. 5
* The House passed a bill this week requiring the FBI director, the secretary of Homeland Security and the director of National Intelligence to personally sign off on every refugee from Syria or Iraq. 6
These policies are especially offensive in light of the fact that there is legislation that Congress could pass right now to actually reduce gun violence. The Senate could:
* Close the terror gap by allowing the Department of Justice to block guns sales to anyone on the terror watch list. Between 2004 and 2014, more than 2,000 people on the list purchased guns in the US. 7
* Close the loophole that allows people to buy guns without undergoing background checks through private sales, at gun shows and online. An estimated 40% of all firearms transferred in the US are transferred by unlicensed individuals not required to conduct background checks on buyers.
* Ban convicted domestic abusers and stalkers from buying guns. Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if that individual has access to a firearm. 8
* Prohibit the manufacture of assault weapons and "large capacity" magazines for civilian use.
If Republicans really want to protect Americans, they need to break their blind allegiance to the NRA and pass gun control legislation. But they'll never act unless we force them. Can you add your voice today?
Tell Senate Republican leaders: Act to make us safer and pass real gun control legislation. Thanks for standing up to the NRA today.
1. Jonathan Martin, "Obama Says 'Enough is Enough' after Colorado Shooting," New York Times, November 28, 2015.
2. "Closing the Terror Gap in Gun Background Checks," Everytown for Gun Safety, July 21, 2015.
3. Judd Legum, "In Response To Paris, Ted Cruz Calls For Airstrikes With More 'Tolerance For Civilian Casualties'," ThinkProgress.org, November 13, 2015.
4. Sarah Frostenson and Dara Lind, "Here's a map of every state refusing to accept Syrian refugees," Vox.com, November 18, 2015.
5. Amy Davidson, "Ted Cruz' Religious Test for Refugees, New Yorker, November 16, 2015.
6. Camila Domonoske, "House Votes To Increase Security Checks On Refugees From Iraq, Syria," NPR, November 19, 2015.
7. "Universal Background Checks & the "Private" Sale Loophole Policy Summary ," Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, September 10, 2015.
8. "Gabby Giffords, National Domestic Violence Prevention Leaders Applaud New House Legislation to Keep Guns out of the Hands of Abusers," Americans for Responsible Solutions, July 22, 2015.
CREDO Action is a publication of Working Assets | credomobile.com
Closing the Terror Gap in Gun Background Checks
Every Town for Gun Safety
What is the Terror Gap? The federal government currently has no authority to block firearm sales to international or domestic terror suspects. This gap in our laws is a glaring public safety concern, as DOJ remains powerless to stop individuals on the terror watch lists from getting armed -- even though many are considered too dangerous to board a plane.
A glaring gap in federal background checks: Right now federal law prohibits nine categories of dangerous people from possessing firearms. Remarkably, individuals on terror watch lists are not among these prohibited people -- and they can pass criminal background checks at the point of sale.
The gun lobby has fought efforts to close the terror gap: Since 2007, the National Rifle Association has blocked efforts to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists, opposing numerous bills seeking to close the terror gap.
Documented purchases: According to the Government Accountability Office, individuals on the terror watch lists tried to buy guns and explosives 2,233 times between February 2004 and December 2014. On 2,043 occasions -- 91 percent of such attempts -- the FBI was unable to block gun and explosives sales to suspected terrorists.
Terror Gap Incidents
Members of international terrorist organizations are able to exploit US law and kill Americans with firearms.
* In June 2011, Al Qaeda released a video featuring Adam Gadahn, an American-born member of the terrorist group, urging followers to commit violent acts of jihad by exploiting weaknesses in US gun laws and the gun background check system.
"America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms," Gadahn said. "You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle without a background check and, most likely, without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?"
* In June 2015, a suspected terrorist with plans to kill a large number of US citizens on behalf of ISIS was arrested the day before he planned to buy an AR-15 at a North Carolina gun show.
If he had bought a gun from an unlicensed seller at a gun show, he would have been able to buy a gun with no background check, no questions asked. And even if he had gone to a licensed gun dealer, the fact that he was under investigation for terrorism by the federal government would not have prevented him from passing a background check and buying a gun.
Guns in terrorist incidents: Nearly all terrorism-related incidents in the US have involved guns. The majority of these attacks, as well as several other thwarted plots, targeted US military personnel.
* Texas attack. On May 3, 2015, Elton Simpson and Nadir Hamid Soofi shot and killed one security officer in Garland, Texas, in a planned attack on an event displaying cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
The two attackers were shot and killed by security. Simpson had been convicted for lying to federal agents in a terror investigation and FBI had alerted police that he posed a danger.
* Boston bombers. On April 18, 2013, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev shot and killed a police officer in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Tsarnaev brothers set off a bomb at the Boston Marathon three days earlier, killing three people and injuring over 250 others. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was on two different watch lists at the time of the bombing and shooting.
* Fort Hood shooting. On November 5, 2009, 13 people were shot and killed and 30 others were wounded by Major Nidal Hasan. Hasan was able to pass a background check and buy a handgun even though he was under investigation by the FBI for links to terrorism. The FBI agents investigating Hasan were never informed that he was trying to purchase a weapon.
* Little Rock Shooting. On June 1, 2009, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad opened fire at a military recruiting station in Little Rock, killing one private and wounding another. Muhammad, who had previously been arrested in Yemen with a fake Somali passport, was under investigation by the FBI at the time of the shooting. He was charged with murder and 16 counts of terrorist acts.
* Seattle plot. On June 23, 2011, Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, aka Joseph Anthony Davis, and Walli Mujahidh, aka Frederick Domingue, Jr.,were arrested on terrorism and firearms-related charges. The two men had purchased machine guns from a government informant and were planning to use them in an attack on the Military Entrance Processing Station in Seattle.
* Quantico plot. On July 27, 2009, Daniel Patrick Boyd and six other suspects were arrested for conspiring to murder US 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 traveled to the Middle East to meet with militants and plan attacks.
* Fort Dix plot. In 2007, six terror suspects were arrested for plotting to attack Fort Dix after trying to buy M-16s, AK-47s, and handguns from a government informant. One suspect pleaded guilty to providing firearms to illegal aliens. The other five were convicted of conspiracy to kill US military personnel.
* Empire State Building murders. On February 23, 1997, Ali Abu Kamal opened fire on the observation deck of the Empire State Building with a handgun purchased from a licensed dealer in Florida, killing one tourist and wounding six before killing himself. A note in his pocket expressed hatred for the United States, Great Britain, Israel, and France.
* CIA headquarters attack. On January 25, 1993, Mir Aimal Kasi walked into traffic near CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Using an assault rifle he bought from a Virginia gun dealer, Kasi killed two CIA employees and wounded three others. Kasi then fled to Pakistan, where he remained at large until his arrest in 1997.
Solution: Bills to Close the
Terror Gap Are Pending in Congress
In 2015, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) introduced S.551/H.R.1076, which gives DOJ discretion, subject to judicial review, to block firearms and explosives sales to international and domestic terrorist suspects.
* The bill grants DOJ the discretion to block sales to an individual on the terror watch lists or otherwise known to be or suspected of being involved in terrorist activity. Once DOJ makes the determination, the terror suspect would be unable to pass a criminal background check, and he or she would be unable to buy guns or explosives from federally licensed dealers.
* Due process: Any individual who fails a background check because he or she is suspected of being involved in terrorist activity may appeal that finding in one of several different ways, including to the FBI, to the state Point of Contact, and ultimately to the agency that submitted the prohibiting record. An individual may also file suit against the United States or the state or local government responsible for providing the prohibiting information.
The Department of Justice has endorsed identical bills in the past. The legislation was originally drafted and endorsed by the Bush Administration in 2007, and has since been introduced in every Congress.
Gun owners, including NRA members, overwhelmingly support the proposal. A 2012 survey by Republican pollster Frank Luntz found that 76 percent of gun owners, including 71 percent of NRA members, support prohibiting people on the terror watch lists from purchasing guns.
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