by Dave Workman
Anti-gun New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg has introduced legislation (S-1317) that would give the Attorney General unprecedented power to deny someone their Second Amendment rights because their names have been added to a terrorist watch list.
This comes three months after USA Today revealed that some 51,000 people had filed “redress” requests, contending that their names had been included on a watch list. It turned out, however, that their names were not on such a list, but that they had been wrongly identified at airports “because their names resembled others on” the list.
Gun rights activists argue that if an airport can make such a mistake, then so can a gun dealer, and so can the Attorney General.
Also, The New York Times reported June 20 that the Department of Justice inspector general had found that an FBI list “carried the names of 24,000 people on the basis of outdated or sometimes irrelevant information.”
Lautenberg’s “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2009” came after he, along with anti-gun Reps. John Conyers (D-MI) and Bobby Scott (D-VA), released a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that claimed 963 cases had been found between February 2004 and February of this year in which suspected or known terrorists had attempted to purchase a firearm. Lautenberg’s bill is similar to HR-2159 in the House.
The legislation would give the Attorney General “discretionary authority” to deny a firearms purchase or the issuance of a firearm or explosives license when a background check reveals that the would-be buyer is a known or suspected terrorist, according to Lautenberg’s website.
The Attorney General would be required to issue guidelines regarding how and under what circumstances the discretionary authority would be used.
Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, accused Lautenberg of pressing his lifelong anti-gun agenda under the guise of national security.
“In Lautenberg’s world view,” Gottlieb said, “any American citizen interested in owning a gun is a potential terrorist. Would he add all of our names to such a watch list, thus stripping us of our Second Amendment rights, without first being charged, prosecuted and convicted of some crime? Probably he would.”
Gottlieb and others in the firearms community have long complained that there has never been an explanation about how someone’s name gets on or off a terrorist watch list. Names on the terrorist watch list are kept secret.
The legislation comes at a time when another report from GAO is falling under heavy criticism (see related story). That report rehashes earlier claims that a majority of firearms being recovered by authorities in Mexico originated in the United States. However, that data is being misrepresented by anti-gunners.