A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that individuals on the federal terrorist watch list were able to purchase firearms and explosives from licensed U.S. dealers 1,119 times. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) told the Senate Homeland Security Committee this month that Congress should close this “terror gap” in the nation’s gun laws. “If society decides that these people are too dangerous to get on an airplane with other people, then it’s probably appropriate to look very hard before you let them buy a gun,” he said.
During the hearing, Bloomberg actually encountered some GOP opposition to this seemingly noncontroversial suggestion. Moreover, the NRA strongly objects to closing the “terror gap,” calling legislation dealing with the issue “21st Century McCarthyism.” Bloomberg is “abusing the word ‘terrorist’ to resurrect and pursue a gun-control agenda,” an NRA spokesperson said.
But it appears that rank-and-file NRA members disagree with their leadership. Today at the NRA’s annual conference in Charlotte, NC, ThinkProgress asked dozens of NRA members if those on the terrorist watch list should be able to purchase firearms and an overwhelming majority agreed with Bloomberg on the need to close the “terror gap.”
Notably, one NRA member found news of the “terror gap” so incredulous that he did not believe the fact that potential terrorists are allowed to purchase firearms. He called news of the GAO report “false information,” and when ThinkProgress tried to show him a Washington Post article reporting it, he remained unconvinced:
NRA MEMBER: The Washington Post, I think that’s part of like the Communist News Broadcasting and everything. … The Washington Post lies on everything. … I don’t know how I can believe the Post. You need to find better facts than the Washington Post. … I wouldn’t believe a word I read in the Washington Post. It’s one of the worst papers in the whole country, from what I’ve heard.
TP: Oh, then which newspaper would you believe?
NRA MEMBER: Which newspaper? I don’t know I would stick to Fox News over everything.
Watch a video compilation:
Believe it or not, Fox News has in fact reported on the “terror gap.” Last December, Fox’s Andrew Napolitano, guest hosting for Glenn Beck, noted that individuals on the federal terrorist watch list are able to purchase firearms. Appearing as a guest on the program, Wayne LaPierre, Executive VP of the NRA, defended the loophole in the law and claimed that an “overwhelming majority of the public” agreed with his viewpoint.
A poll conducted late last year found that 82 percent of gun owners and NRA members support “prohibiting people on the terrorist watch lists from purchasing guns,” while 69 percent said they favor “requiring all gun sellers at gun shows to conduct criminal background checks of the people buying guns.”
As Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne noted at the time, the poll indicates that NRA members are “more reasonable than the organization’s leaders and supporters in Congress in understanding the urgency of keeping guns out of the wrong hands.”