One of a dozen governors to welcome Syrian refugees, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy suggested to top Congressional leaders that if they wanted to make U.S. citizens safer they could ban the sale of weapons to anyone on the terrorist watchlist.
In this letter, Malloy called upon Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid to consider legislation that bans the sale of firearms to individuals on the terrorist watchlist.
“If Congress wants to enhance our national security and protect U.S. citizens, then the House and Senate should immediately consider and pass legislation — the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015 — sponsored by Representative King in the House (H.R. 1076) and Senator Feinstein in the Senate (S.551),” Malloy wrote. “This legislation would prohibit the sale of firearms and explosives to anyone suspected by the federal government of being a terrorist.”
According to the General Accountability Office, between 2004 and 2010, FBI data shows that people on the terrorism watchlist tried to buy guns and explosives 1,228 times.
“They succeeded in more than 90 percent of those cases, or 1,119 times,” Malloy wrote.
In 2007, the U.S. Department of Justice urged Congress to provide the U.S. Attorney General with discretionary authority to deny the transfer of firearms or explosives to suspected terrorists. Malloy concluded that closing that loophole “is both bipartisan and common sense.”
U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-New York, who wrote the House legislation, told the New York Daily News that passage of the legislation remains a long shot even after the Paris attack.
There are roughly 700,000 names on the FBI’s Terrorist Watchlist. It includes the names of both domestic and international suspects identified through intelligence and law enforcement investigation. An updated version of the GAO report found that between 2004 and 2014, suspected terrorists attempted to purchase guns from American dealers at least 2,233 times. And in 2,043 of those cases — 91 percent of the time — they succeeded.
“Congress refuses to connect the terrorism watchlist with the ‘no buy’ list,” Malloy said Monday outside his Capitol office. “Taking folks at their word that they want to do something about our protection, I’m calling on them to, as quickly as they acted on the refugee question at least in the House of Representatives, that they connect the ‘no buy’ with the watchlist.”
Malloy said he felt it was a better way to make the nation safer.
The National Rifle Association opposed similar legislation in 2009, but has not made a public statement about the legislation.