Legislators allege a “loophole” is allowing terrorists to buy weapons in US

The recent acts of terrorism in Paris and Mali have brought the focus back on a piece of legislation that would require the F.B.I. to cross reference the federal terrorism watch list when doing background checks for gun sales. Currently, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has stalled the bill from reaching the House floor.  

As the law stands right now, a person looking to purchase a firearm would have to fill out a firearm transaction record, a document that asks questions about the persons criminal background, drug history, mental health history and more. 

Once that document is complete, the gun shop owner then calls into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and relays the information from the firearm transaction record. If everything checks out, the person passes and is allowed to purchase a gun. If not, the gun shop owner is transferred to an F.B.I. agent who furthers investigates the person trying to purchase a gun, then informs the gun shop owner if they may proceed with the transaction. 

What House Bill 1076, the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015, would do, is require the federal terrorism watch list to be cross-referenced during this background check. 

Legislators such as Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D)Md. and Rep. Pete King (R))NY. say that this is a “loop hole” in our gun laws that allows suspected terrorists to purchase weapons legally. 

According to the Government Accountability Office, the investigative branch of Congress, between 2004 and 2014 more than 2,000 people on this watch list were able to pass background checks and get their hands on weapons.

The federal “no fly” list, is a subset of the watch list. As Van Hollen points out, if you were on the “no fly” list, you would still be able to purchase a gun under the current gun law. 

“Well it’s absolutely nuts that you can be prevented from getting on an airplane because you’re on the no-fly list, but  you could go straight from the airport to your local gun dealer or gun show and buy semi-automatic weapons,” Van Hollen said.

Those against the bill, like local gun shop owner Bob Arthur, say the background check process is stringent enough and point to the alleged inconsistencies of the “no fly list”.

“It’s just a list. I mean you haven’t broken any laws, you haven’t done any crimes it’s just somebody is saying that you’re on a list and now they’re going to take your rights, that’s unconstitutional by far,” Arthur said, 

In the past the *no fly list* has been criticized by civil liberties groups, due in part to the potential for ethnic, religious, economic, political, or racial profiling and discrimination. 

The F.B.I however maintains that no one ends up on the “no fly” list without reasonable suspicion. 

On their website for the Terrorism Screening Center they list that “before an individual may be placed on the No Fly List, there must be credible information that demonstrates the individual poses a threat of committing a violent act of terrorism with respect to civil aviation, the homeland, United States interests located abroad, or is operationally capable of doing so.”

47 ABC reached out to Speaker Ryan to ask why the bill has been stalled. As of Tuesday, Ryan’s office has not answered. 

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