June 15, 2016- In wake of this week’s gun tragedy in Orlando, Florida, retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, the Co-Founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions, issued the following statement today calling on the U.S. Senate to close the “terror gap” loophole that lets known or suspected terrorists buy guns:
“In the aftermath of the San Bernardino tragedy last December, the U.S. Senate gave in to the gun lobby and voted to protect the loophole that lets known and suspected terrorists legally buy guns. This week, tragedy struck our country once again when a dangerous person who was previously on the FBI’s terrorist watchlist murdered 49 of our fellow Americans. Thanks to a gap in our laws that makes it easier for known and suspected terrorists to access guns, at no time would he have been prevented from buying one.
“Now, the U.S. Senate has another opportunity to finally come together to do the responsible thing and close this dangerous loophole in our gun laws with real legislation to help prevent future gun tragedies.
“The American people will soon find out whether their elected leaders in the Senate are on the side of the gun lobby or the side of responsibility. Gabby and I – and the nearly one million Americans for Responsible Solutions supporters across our country – will be paying close attention to the Senate’s response. Lives are at stake.”
BACKGROUND ON THE TERROR GAP
- Loopholes in Federal Law Enables Individuals on the FBI’s Terrorist 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 terrorist watch list from passing a background check and legally buying guns. Between February 2004 and December 2014, individuals on the terror 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.