June 15, 2016 – In the wake of Sunday’s gun tragedy in Orlando, the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions issued the following statement today on United States Senator Marco Rubio’s record of voting to protect the loophole in federal law that allows known and suspected terrorists on the FBI’s terrorist watch list to pass a criminal background check and legally purchase guns at federally licensed firearms dealers:
“In the aftermath of the San Bernardino tragedy last December, Senator Rubio failed to stand up to the gun lobby and do the responsible thing. Instead, he voted to protect the loophole that lets known and suspected terrorists legally buy guns. Since then, Senator Rubio has worked hard to confuse Floridians about his vote and has repeated the gun lobby’s talking points. While he talks tough about defending our country from terrorist attacks, the reality is that in the face of the threat of active shooter terrorism, Senator Rubio voted to protect a dangerous status quo.”
BACKGROUND ON THE TERROR GAP IN OUR FEDERAL GUN LAWS
- Loopholes in Federal Law Enables Individuals on the FBI’s Terror Watch List to Legally Buy Guns. Current federal law prohibits the purchase and possession of firearms by people who fall within nine categories, including felons, domestic abusers, and individuals who have been adjudicated mentally ill. But federal law does not currently prohibit individuals on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s terror watch list from passing a background check and legally buying guns. Between February 2004 and December 2014, individuals on the terrorist watch list were able to buy firearms 2,043 times. [Government Accountability Office] In 2015, known or suspected terrorists underwent background checks to purchase firearms 244 times — and 223 of those transactions, or 91%, were allowed to proceed. [CNN]
- The Vast Majority of Gun Owners and NRA Members Support Closing the Terror Gap. According to research conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine, 82 percent of gun owners and 75 percent of NRA members support closing the terror gap. [New England Journal of Medicine]
- Support for Closing the Terror Gap Extends Across Party Lines – Includes Former President George W. Bush. Those who have supported closing this loophole include: President George W. Bush, Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, 9/11 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean, Former New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and the International Association of Police Chiefs.