06.19.16

SCHUMER: DEMOCRATIC FILIBUSTER SMASHES THROUGH CONGRESSIONAL GRIDLOCK ON GUNS, FORCING CRITICAL MONDAY VOTE SHOWDOWN ON COMMON SENSE GUN SAFETY LAWS TO CLOSE TERROR LOOPHOLE & EXPAND BACKGROUND CHECKS; ON EVE OF VOTE, SENATOR DETAILS PLAN FOR SECURING ‘YES’ VOTES IN HONOR OF ORLANDO VICTIMS & OTHERS

Following 15-Hour Filibuster, Schumer & Colleagues Successfully Secured Senate Votes Starting Monday To Stop Terror Suspects From So Easily Acquiring Weapons & Then Using Them In Senseless Attacks; Legislation Would Allow Law Enforcement To Block Those On Terror Watch List From Purchasing Weapons & Improve Gun Background Check System

 CIA Just Warned About ISIS Threat Looming Over America, Yet There Is No Way To Stop Those On Terrorist Watch List From Legally Purchasing Guns; Despite Recent Tragedies Related To Lone-Wolf Terrorism, Successful Vote Will Be Uphill Climb Where Public’s Voice Can Have Real Impact

 Schumer: Dangerous People—Especially Terror Suspects—Must No Longer Get Automatic Green Light To Buy Weapons; Monday Vote Is Critical

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that votes to close a fatal gap in the U.S. background check law and improve the gun background check system will begin Monday. These votes aim to fix the broken gun background check system and prevent prohibited purchases—like felons, domestic violence offenders and terror suspects—from getting their hands on weapons of war through gaping loopholes in the law that currently exist and need to be closed. On the eve of this critical vote on the Senate floor, Schumer urged the American public to make their voices heard by calling, writing, e-mailing and tweeting their Congressional representatives about the importance of passing the “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act.” Schumer is a sponsor of this legislation, which would give the Department of Justice the authority to prevent a known or suspected terrorist from purchasing firearms or explosives, also known as the “terror gap.” 

“In the wake of the Orlando tragedy, we have to right the wrongs in our background check system that let people plan and carry out despicable attacks,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. “We must immediately disallow terror suspects from legally getting their hands on weapons. The ‘terror gap’ just defies commons sense. The same nefarious individuals we monitor and bar from planes, we turn the other way when they want to purchase a gun. Simply put, if you are on a terrorist watch list, you should not be able to walk into a gun store and easily purchase a cache of deadly weapons. Slamming shut this appalling loophole ought to be a no-brainer and that’s why I’m calling on the American public—the majority of whom agree—to make their voices heard about the importance of passing this legislation ASAP.”

Schumer said this terror loophole also poses a major threat to soft targets, where people are most vulnerable, sentiments also expressed this week during testimony by CIA Director Brennan. Brennan said that the ISIS threat to the United States was far from extinguished and detailed concerns with lone wolf attackers who feel inspired by the terror group to carry out deranged acts of violence in public places.

Schumer points out that without a change in the law, terror suspects on the FBI’s watch list can easily unleash mayhem at malls, busy parks, concert hall, sports stadium, or somewhere else where large amounts of everyday people congregate. Schumer said that Congress must immediately close this loophole and choke off the ease at which suspects on the terror watch list can stock up on war-like weapons and dangerous explosives.

Schumer authored the 1993 Brady Bill, which amended the Gun Control Act of 1968 to require background checks before a licensed gun dealer makes a sale. After the tragedy at Virginia Tech, Schumer worked with his colleagues in Congress to pass the National Incident Criminal Background Check System Improvement Act, which improved the system through which states provided the names of people who were adjudicated mentally ill or who had committed violent crimes. Simply put, states report these names to a federal database that licensed gun dealers must check with before selling a weapon.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) does not currently reveal information about a potential buyer's status as a known or suspected terrorist, instead containing the buyer's criminal and mental health records. Schumer said that the horrible attacks in Orlando and San Bernardino offer undeniable proof that individuals with nefarious intent to commit acts of terror can and will seek legal channels to purchase weapons and explosives. The “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015,” authored by Senator Feinstein, would close this “terror gap.” The Department of Justice under President George W. Bush initially proposed the legislation in 2007.

Schumer said that terrorists are well aware about the “terror gap.” For instance, Schumer also pointed to a June 2011 video in which Adam Gadahn, an American born al Qaeda member, urged other terrorists to exploit weakness in federal gun laws as an easy means of obtaining weapons for use in terrorist attacks.

According to information prepared by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), approximately 23.1 million background checks were run through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in 2015. The FBI data shows that for the 2015 calendar year, individuals on the terrorist watch-list were involved in firearm-related background checks 244 times, of which 223 (about 91 percent) of the transactions were allowed to proceed.

Between February 2004 and December 2014, individuals on the consolidated terrorist watch list cleared a background check in 91 percent of attempted transactions (2,265 of 2,477 times), according to GAO data.

 

Calendar year

Valid matches

Denied

Allowed to proceed

 

2013

256

16

240

2014

229

15

214

2015

244

21

223

The Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015 would:

  • Allow the attorney general to deny the purchase or transfer of a firearm or explosive to a known or suspected terrorist if the prospective recipient may use the firearm or explosive in connection with terrorism.
  • Maintain protections in current law that allow a person who believes he has been mistakenly prevented from buying a firearm to learn of the reason for the denial, and then to challenge the denial, first administratively with the Department of Justice, and then through a lawsuit against the Justice Department.
  • Allow the Justice Department, in any administrative or court proceeding challenging the accuracy of a denied firearm or explosive transfer under the bill, to protect information that, if disclosed, would compromise national security.

The Fix Gun Checks Act of 2016 would fix the nation's broken gun background check system by taking two critical steps:

  • Require states and the federal government to send all necessary records on felons, drug abusers, the seriously mentally ill and other dangerous people to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This bill will close various loopholes to ensure that more names of people who are federally prohibited from having guns are included in NICS.
  • Requires background checks for the sale or transfer of all firearms at gun shows, on the internet and by private sellers, just as licensed dealers are required to conduct checks under the existing Brady Law, with certain reasonable exceptions.

Schumer has been a longtime leading advocate of closing the loophole that allows people to buy guns online, at gun shows and in private transactions without a background check. That loophole allows those who are barred from obtaining guns - felons, spousal abusers, the adjudicated mentally ill - to purchase one without difficulty.

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