The “terror gap”: do terrorists have a right to buy guns?
While it may seem like common sense to prohibit anyone who is on a terrorist watch list from purchasing a firearm, surprisingly there are no laws to keep suspected terrorists from buying guns. Dating back to the first volley of anti-terror laws after 9/11, gun rights advocates argued fiercely, and successfully, that any move to restrict gun sales to suspected terrorists would ultimately infringe on 2nd amendment rights. A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report out today disclosed that from February 2004 through February 2010, individuals on the terrorist watchlist were involved in firearm or explosives background checks 1,228 times. Of those, 91% were allowed to proceed because there were no legally disqualifying factors. The suspect in the attempted Times Square bombing, a resident of the terrorist watchlist, bought himself a gun a few weeks before he drove an explosives-laden SUV into New York City—should the “terror gap” be closed?