In the wake of the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida -- a killing spree that left 50 dead and even more injured -- America's gun laws are once again being reexamined, particularly a loophole referred to as the "terror gap." Terrorists and terrorist sympathizers are well aware of the terror gap in America's lax gun laws, and they are actively exploiting it.
Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen legally purchased the guns he had on him, including a.223 caliber AR-type rifle, within the past week despite the fact that he had been known to law enforcement for years, federal officials confirmed.
An FBI official said in a news conference Sunday that Mateen was interviewed by the FBI after making "inflammatory" comments to co-workers in 2013. He was also later interviewed again by the FBI for a potential connection to a suicide bomber. Both investigations were closed, the FBI official said, and even though there was a suspected terrorist link, Mateen was able to easily purchase the guns he used in the mass killing at Pulse.
There are federal gun laws in place; in fact, current federal law prohibits nine specific categories of people from purchasing or owning firearms. However, there is a yawning gap in those laws that allows suspected or known terrorists in the United States to legally obtain guns. This is what is commonly referred to as the terror gap when discussing America's gun laws.
An investigation conducted by the Government Accountability Office turned up disturbing evidence in regards to the terror gap in gun laws. Between 2004 and 2014, individuals who are on the consolidated terror watch list easily passed a background check and were legally allowed to buy guns a total of 2,043 times out of a total of 2,233 attempts made.
That means in 90 percent of all cases where a terrorist, either suspected or known, has attempted to purchase a gun in the United States, he or she was able to do so legally.
"America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?" American-born al-Qaeda spokesmen Adam Yahiye Gadahn said in a message to followers in 2011.
Gadahn, who was once the American face of al-Qaida, was killed in a drone strike in 2015. But the message to his fellow terrorists and terrorist sympathizers continues to be perpetuated through other means, such as a six-page document instructing others in jihad. The document highlights "the advantages the United States offers for firearms training and advises readers on how to exploit them," even pointing out the legality of obtaining assault-style weapons.
"In other countries, e.g. some states of USA, South Africa, it is perfectly legal for members of the public to own certain types of firearms. If you live in such a country, obtain an assault rifle legally, preferably AK-47 or variations, learn how to use it properly and go and practice in the areas allowed for such training.Legislation originally drafted in 2007 by the Bush administration, and faithfully introduced in every Congress before being voted down ever since, would close the terror gap and prevent suspected terrorists from easily buying guns. The bill defines a terror suspect as any person who is known or suspected to be involved in preparing for or providing support for terrorism and would prevent such individuals from legally obtaining firearms.
"Respect the laws of the country you are in and avoid dealing in illegal firearms. One can learn to operate many arms legally, so there is no need to spend years in prison for dealing in small, illegal firearms. Learn the most you can according to your circumstances and leave the rest to when you actually go for Jihad."
The attempt to close the terror gap, called the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act, or S. 551 / H.R. 1076, was again introduced to Congress as recently as December of 2015 before being defeated yet again.
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