The federal government has almost no authority to block firearms sales to international or domestic terror suspects. Yet the nation’s disgracefully weak gun control laws are of little concern to the U.S. Senate, which recently rejected the most basic safety measures, including comprehensive background checks.
Under current laws, having their name on a federal terror-watch list does not prohibit people from buying guns, as long as they don’t have a criminal or mental-health record. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston bombing suspects, was listed on a terror-watch list.
Between 2004 and 2010, more than 1,000 people on such lists bought guns or explosives after a background check, the Government Accountability Office reports. So a person on a watch list is too dangerous to board an airplane, but OK to buy an assault-style rifle.
A bill before the Senate would give the Justice Department authority to block sales of guns and explosives to terror suspects. The National Rifle Association opposes the measure, even though polls show most gun owners support it.
It’s time to stop the NRA from thwarting the will of the American people — again — and undermining the security interests of the nation.