To Do Nothing Is A Decision As Well
This morning, three days after the tragedy in Orlando, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) began a speaking filibuster on the Senate floor to honor the victims of Orlando and demand that the Senate take action to address gun violence. “I’m prepared to stand on this floor, and talk about the need for this body to come together on keeping terrorists away from getting guns … for frankly, as long as I can, because I know that we can come together on this issue,” he said. More than six hours later he remains on the floor, where he has been joined by many of his Senate Democratic colleagues.
One of the changes Sen. Murphy, along with many of his fellow Democratic Senators, is calling for is closing the terror gap, which is a loophole in our gun laws that allows suspected terrorists to legally purchase firearms. Right now in the United States, if you are considered too dangerous to buy a plane ticket, you can still buy a firearm. Suspected terrorists who are placed on a no-fly list are prevented from flying on an airplane but can still legally purchase guns. And they have.
Between 2004 and 2014, more than 2,000 individuals on the consolidated terror watch list passed a background check and were legally able to buy a gun. In 90 percent of cases, potential terrorists passed a background check and were legally able to buy a gun, which means that only a small fraction of the time was the FBI able to stop suspected terrorists from buying guns due to another disqualifying conviction or record.
And terrorist gun use is on the rise: a recent study found that, since 2001, lone-wolf terrorists have increasingly turned to high-powered guns as their weapon of choice. In 2011, an Al Qaeda leader even encouraged recruits to exploit lax American gun laws to commit acts of terror.
An overwhelming majority of Americans, including 82 percent of gun owners, supports closing the terror gap. And Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has introduced a bill that would do just that, but the Senate voted against the bill in December, shortly after the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.
Today on the Senate floor, in the aftermath of yet another act of terror carried out by a gun, Sen. Murphy and many of his peers are calling for commonsense measures to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. From closing the terror gap to lifting the CDC research ban to closing the background check loophole to banning assault weapons—there are many existing policy proposals that would make a meaningful difference in fighting gun violence. And as President Obama said on Monday, “To actively do nothing is a decision as well.”
BOTTOM LINE: Enough is enough. There are commonsense steps we can take that will help keep guns out of dangerous hands. It is time that conservative lawmakers back up their thoughts and prayers with meaningful action to fight gun violence.
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