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Guest opinion

Kirkpatrick: Close 'Terror Gap' to deny guns to those on no-fly list

People too dangerous to fly are too dangerous to buy guns and explosives. Makes sense, right? Not to Washington politicians.

Congress is too afraid of the gun lobby to fix a dangerous loophole known as the "Terror Gap," and as a result, the FBI lacks authority to block firearm and explosives sales to terror suspects. It's a total failure of leadership when, even in post-9/11 times, lobbyists are calling the shots about keeping America safe.

The Terror Gap is a loophole in our federal background check requirements. Right now, federal law prohibits nine categories of dangerous persons from purchasing or possessing firearms. Not a single one of those nine categories applies to individuals on our nation's terror watch lists.

This dangerous loophole could be fixed by passing H.R. 1076, the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act. The bill is bipartisan – it's sponsored by a Republican and a Democrat – but House leadership is so afraid of special interests they refuse to allow a vote on it.

Blocking this vote sends a clear message to the American people: Congress will continue to do nothing to keep us safe – except send out sympathy tweets and messages after the next horrific attack. The American people are sick of hearing about thoughts and prayers from the very politicians who are blocking common-sense solutions.

Related:
What the Devil won't tell you: Watch lists should never be used to deny constitutional rights

Terrorists are coming at us with everything they have, and that means our nation must fight terrorism and global threats with every resource we have, and with all the might we can muster.

We're kidding ourselves if we don't think they would exploit the Terror Gap: In 2001, American-born al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn called for deadly lone wolf terrorist acts on American soil. "America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms," Gadahn said. "So what are you waiting for?"

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A Government Accountability Office report from April 2011 found that, between February 2004 and December 2010, individuals on the terrorist watch list succeeded 91 percent of the time — their background checks revealed no prohibiting information — when they tried to buy guns or explosives from licensed dealers. That means in less than seven years, more than 1,300 individuals on the terrorist watch list succeeded in legally obtaining guns or explosives.

To the politicians protecting the Terror Gap, I say: You are protecting the wrong people. People too dangerous to fly are too dangerous to buy guns. As elected leaders, it's our job to do all we can to keep America safe.

Closing the Terror Gap just makes sense. Congress, get some courage.

U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick represents Arizona’s CD 2 in Congress.

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