ISIS-related shootings have become a serious issue that concerns many Americans, and it appears the terrorist group is taking advantage of America’s gun laws.
In a new interview with the New York Times, former ISIS recruit Harry Sarfo claims that ISIS members believe it is easy to get a gun in America, and that benefits the terrorist group.
“For America and Canada, it’s much easier for them to get them over the social network, because they say the Americans are dumb — they have open gun policies,” Sarfo said. “They say we can radicalize them easily, and if they have no prior record, they can buy guns, so we don’t need to have no contact man who has to provide guns for them.”
There has been much debate around the country concerning how America’s gun laws impact terrorism. The worst mass shooting in the country that has been connected to ISIS in some way was carried out by Orlando shooter Omar Mateen, who legally purchased his guns, according to Time.
As the Washington Post points out, beyond ISIS, al-Qaeda members have made similar statements about U.S. gun laws in the past.
“America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms,” American al-Qaeda recruit Adam Gadahn said in a video released in 2011. “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?”
Democrats have attempted to pass a law that would ban anyone on the terrorist watch list from purchasing a gun, but Republicans and civil rights groups have claimed the watch list is too opaque and the ban would result in an infringement of due process. Democrats also tried and failed to pass universal background checks.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has spoken out about his belief that terrorists enjoy taking advantage of America’s “lax gun laws.”
“Terror groups like ISIS and al Qaeda are using America’s guns law against America,” Reid said in June. “These murderers are calling on their radical followers to exploit loopholes. Why? Because firearms are easier to attain in America than making their homemade bombs.”
Although gun laws are stricter in much of Europe, the continent doesn’t monitor who’s crossing borders like the United States does, so ISIS is able to smuggle guns into countries with strict gun laws after getting them in places with less strict laws.
A recent Amnesty International report also claimed that the guns ISIS is using in Iraq and Syria have partially been supplied by the U.S., as they were meant to go to the Iraqi Army. The report cites a 2014 incident where ISIS captured Mosul and seized a large amount of weaponry from the Iraqi Army, and it says that’s only part of what’s been captured.
“That very spectacular looting in 2014… was just the endpoint of a very long history of hemorrhaging of supplies that started in 2003,” Patrick Wilcken, a London-based arms control researcher for Amnesty, told Mother Jones. “That has made the whole issue of weapons proliferation incredibly serious in Iraq and spilling over into Syria, and has armed not just the Islamic State but many other armed groups.”
The report states that much of the problem is related to the fact the United States has sent Iraq weapons without requiring the proper monitoring of where those weapons are going, and it has been happening for a long time.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]