11.24.15

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Supports Effort to Stop Terrorists from Buying Firearms, Explosives

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin cosponsored the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015 to give the Department of Justice authority to prevent a known or suspected terrorist from buying firearms or explosives.

We must address a serious national security and public safety weakness and close this loophole that allows a known or suspected terrorist to swiftly pass a firearms or explosives background check and obtain a dangerous weapon,” said Senator Baldwin. “Preventing people on the terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms and explosives is a common sense action we can take to protect American lives.”

In a letter to congressional leaders House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Baldwin joined 37 fellow Senators in calling for the bill to be brought to the House and Senate floor for consideration and a vote.

“There is no reason why suspected terrorists who we consider too dangerous to board airplanes should be able to walk into any gun store in the United States and purchase a firearm or an explosive for the purpose of carrying out a terrorist act. But today, suspected terrorists can legally purchase guns in the United States—and they’re doing so, even while law enforcement may be investigating them or pursing their arrest or indictment,” wrote the senators.

The legislation was introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Representative Peter King (R-NY). Cosponsors include Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward Markey (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Angus King (I-ME), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Robert Casey (D-PA).

The Department of Justice under President George W. Bush initially proposed the legislation in 2007. Attorney General Eric Holder testified at a 2009 Judiciary Committee hearing that the Obama administration also supported the legislation.

According to information prepared by the Government Accountability Office, individuals on the consolidated terrorist watch list, which includes the no-fly list, cleared a background check for a gun transaction in 94 percent of attempted transactions in 2013 and 2014 (455 out of 486 times).

Between February 2004 and December 2014, individuals on the consolidated terrorist watch list cleared a background check in 91 percent of attempted transactions (2,043 of 2,233 times), according to GAO data.

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.