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Letter: How can NRA back gun sales to people on terror watch list?

How can NRA back gun sales to people on terror watch list?

The National Rifle Association has come out in favor of terrorists’ right to purchase firearms. As astonishing as it might seem, the NRA has been lobbying hard to defeat a succession of bills that would prohibit the sale of guns to people on the U.S. terrorist watch lists. When I first heard this news, my initial reaction was, “why do we need such a bill? Aren’t terrorists already prohibited from buying guns?” Turns out they are not.

President George W. Bush first tried to close this loophole in 2007, but the legislation was defeated, mainly by congressional Republicans under the thumb of the NRA. The most recent bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., has not even been brought to a vote. King, who is far from a flaming liberal, bemoaned the fact that only a “handful” of Republicans support his bill, mainly because of the NRA’s “knee jerk reaction.”

What is the NRA’s rationale? It says that some people on the watch list do not belong there and that this bill will infringe their rights. The Government Accountability Office recently released a report showing that from 2004 to 2014, individuals on the watch list successfully purchased guns no fewer than 2,043 times. Do you mean to tell me that all of those people don’t belong on the list? Inconvenience to a handful of innocent people is not a justification for allowing a suspected terrorist to walk into a gun store and buy assault rifles, ammo and other firearms.

I should clarify that when I say “the NRA,” I am not referring to the vast majority of members who, no doubt, have no problem with the Feinstein-King bill. It is the NRA leadership, a small coterie of hard-core ideologues who are behind this effort. That leadership has long ago abandoned its mission of advocating for the rights of law-abiding gun owners. The NRA’s political unit has effectively become a shill for gun manufacturers and dealers. When will this insanity end?

Joe Gerken

Buffalo