This story is rather incredible, but it’s not without precedent. Republicans in the US House Appropriations Committee yesterday voted down an amendment that would have permitted the Justice Department to block the sale of guns and explosives to suspected terrorists on the terror watch list.
If we stop terrorists from buying explosives, then the terrorists win.
You see, Republicans say they don’t trust the terror watch list, and neither do their masters at the NRA. So rather than figure out how to improve the terror watch list, Republicans figure it’s better to just arm the terrorists.
Oh but it gets worse, Roll Call reports that Republicans also opposed giving local police access to the ATF gun data. What did Republicans support? An amendment “to block the ATF from continuing to require the reporting of purchases of multiple firearms in border states.”
I hate to go all George Bush, but is the GOP, and the gun lobby, now in the pocket of Al Qaeda?
Think that’s hyperbole, here’s an Al Qaeda operative talking about the importance of taking advantage of America’s weak gun laws. Here’s Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn in 2011:
“America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at a local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?”
How big a problem is it having suspected terrorist being able to buy guns and explosives? The GAO reports (pdf file):
From February 2004 through February 2010, FBI data show that individuals on the terrorist watchlist were involved in firearm or explosives background checks 1,228 times; 1,119 (about 91 percent) of these transactions were allowed to proceed because no prohibiting information was found—such as felony convictions, illegal immigrant status, or other disqualifying factors—and 109 of the transactions were denied.
This isn’t a recent problem. Gun enthusiasts in Congress wouldn’t let the FBI check the gun purchases of terrorists immediately following September 11, lest we impinge on the Second Amendment rights of Mohammad Atta best friend. Here’s a quote from the NYT on December 6, 2001 – only three months after September 11:
The Justice Department has refused to let the F.B.I. check its records to determine whether any of the 1,200 people detained after the Sept. 11 attacks had bought guns, F.B.I. and Justice Department officials say.
The department made the decision in October after the F.B.I. asked to examine the records it maintains on background checks to see if any detainees had purchased guns in the United States.
So we shouldn’t be surprised that House Republicans are voting in favor of arming terrorists. They’ve been doing it for years.