Tuesday, March 08, 2005

NY Times: Terrorist Suspects Buying Weapons in U.S.

The Times reports that terror suspects are exploiting vulnerabilities in the nation's gun laws to acquire firearms.

At least 44 times from February 2004 to June, people whom the F.B.I. regards as known or suspected members of terrorist groups sought permission to buy or carry a gun, the investigation found.

In all but nine cases, the F.B.I. or state authorities who handled the requests allowed the applications to proceed because a check of the would-be buyer found no automatic disqualification like being a felon, an illegal immigrant or someone deemed "mentally defective," the report found.
This should surprise no one.

Democrats in congress will try to fix these problems, the Times reports.

Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, who requested the study, plans to introduce legislation to address the problem in part by requiring federal officials to keep records of gun purchases by terror suspects for a minimum of 10 years. Such records must now be destroyed within 24 hours as a result of a change ordered by Congress last year. Mr. Lautenberg maintains that the new policy has hindered terrorism investigations by eliminating the paper trail on gun purchases.

"Destroying these records in 24 hours is senseless and will only help terrorists cover their tracks," Mr. Lautenberg said Monday. "It's an absurd policy."

He blamed what he called the Bush administration's "twisted allegiances" to the National Rifle Association for the situation.
Good for Senator Lautenberg. It is long past the time for Democrats to hold the Bush administration accountable for its shocking inattention to so many fundamental issues related to our national security.

This will require courage, strategy and institutional support. It is unbelievable that Democrats still have yet to figure out that they can outflank Bush to the right on this issue. It isn't a matter of politics, but one of public responsibility.