Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Terror Suspects Buying Firearms, Report Finds

The New York Times : Terror Suspects Buying Firearms, Report Finds

WASHINGTON, March 7 - Dozens of terror suspects on federal watch lists were allowed to buy firearms legally in the United States last year, according to a Congressional investigation that points up major vulnerabilities in federal gun laws.

The New York times has once again resorted to fear-mongering to support their Liberal gun-control agenda.

People suspected of being members of a terrorist group are not automatically barred from legally buying a gun, and the investigation, conducted by the Government Accountability Office, indicated that people with clear links to terrorist groups had regularly taken advantage of this gap.

The operative word here is "suspected". There is nothing present, nor was any clause proposed, in the Brady Bill to deny the rights of any person who is only "suspected" of violating the law.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, law enforcement officials and gun control groups have voiced increasing concern about the prospect of a terrorist walking into a gun shop, legally buying an assault rifle or other type of weapon and using it in an attack.

On the contrary, a 'terrorist' is not permitted to purchase a firearm. Nor is a felon.

However, a person is not a felon until he/she is convicted in a court of law of felonious activities. If you are suspected of a felony, you may be charged, tried and convicted.

Until you are convicted of a felony, you are "presumed innocent", and retain your full rights as a citizen.

Who is prevented from buying a firearm under the Brady Bill (Title 18)?
Convicted felons, juveniles, insane people, non-citizens, and "Terrorists".

What is a "terrorist"?

It is a person who is engaged in "terrorism":
(22) ....

For purposes of this paragraph, the term ``terrorism'' means activity,
directed against United States persons, which--
(A) is committed by an individual who is not a national or
permanent resident alien of the United States;
(B) involves violent acts or acts dangerous to human life which
would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction
of the United States; and
(C) is intended--
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation
or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by assassination
or kidnapping.

Okay, we've established some basic definitions according to Title 18. Let's look at the concerns reported by the New York Times:

The G.A.O. study offers the first full-scale examination of the possible dangers posed by gaps in the law, Congressional officials said, and it concludes that the Federal Bureau of Investigation "could better manage" its gun-buying records in matching them against lists of suspected terrorists.

F.B.I. officials maintain that they are hamstrung by laws and policies restricting the use of gun-buying records because of concerns over the privacy rights of gun owners.

(Emphasis added)

Let's look at two cogent phrases:

",,, gaps in the law..."

"...hamstrung by laws and policies restricting the use of gun-buying records ..."

First, there are no 'gaps in the law'.

The Brady Bill was designed specifically to prevent felons, juveniles, madmen, etc. from possessing firearms. This is clearly demonstrated in the fascinating essay "Battle Over the Brady Bill".

Title 18 performs the purpose for which it was designed. When a firearms dealer performs a background check, the Federal Government and their POC's (Points Of Contact) have the opportunity to prevent the sale. The burden of proof that a prospective purchaser is not eligible to buy the firearm is not on the dealer, nor on the purchaser. The burden of proof is on the federal government, which must prevent the transaction based upon clearly defined guidelines. If the purchaser is someone who is legally not permitted to buy a fun *, the POC has the opportunity and the responsibility to to say so in a timely manner. Again, "suspician" is not one of the guidelines. In fact, "suspician" is grounds for arrest, but arrest and even arraignmenton on the charge of a felony is not grounds for denying the purchase. Only a conviction, or proof tha the purchaser is demonstrably among certain other groups (juvenile, madman, etc.) is grounds for denial.

Second, the FBI (according to the article) contends that they are "hamstrung" by the law.

Well, yes. they are 'hamstrung' since the law (Title 18) specifically prevents them .. or any other agency .... from using the NCICS system to record who has purchased a firearm. Abuse of the system in this way (specifically forbidden by the context of the cited law) is registration. The Brady Bill may have been intended by its original drafters to impose registration, but that clause was quickly stricken down and was history before he bill was accepted. Somebody out there was paying attention to the Second Amendment.

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.

Question: How does the FBI know this? Administration of the NCIC system is the responsibility of the BATF. Are they sharing data with the FBI? You may think this is a good idea, but it is not legal.

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.
That's the way the system is suppose to work. Do you suppose the NYT doesn't understand that?

The gun buyers came up as positive matches on a classified internal F.B.I. watch list that includes thousands of terrorist suspects, many of whom are being monitored, trailed or sought for questioning as part of terrorism investigations into Islamic-based, militia-style and other groups, official said.
"... sought for questioning ...? These " ... gun buyers came up as positive matches on a classified internal F.B.I. watch list ..." and the FBI did nothing? The article doesn't provide any details, but one wonders if these the situation was (a) the FBI didn't really care enough about the 'gun buyers' to go out and pick them up when they knew where they were at the moment, or (b) they didn't get the word from the ATF to apprehend them at the site.

Your guess is as good as mine, but it's an interesting question. Maybe, the FBI wasn't as 'interested' in these people as the NYT article would leave us to believe.

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.

This dog won't hunt.
"Terror suspects", in accordance with the tone of this article, will be whomever Frankie the Fink choses to label as such. What do you want to bet that the bill, if/when it is finally introduced to the Senate, is deliberately vague on the definition of "terror suspects". This means that it could be you, or me, or anyone ....

"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.

The "twisted allegiances" which Lautenberg refers to is the "twisted allegiance" to Federal Law, as it was composed and accepted by the U.S. Senate.

Frankie's just mad because the other boys and girls didn't want to play his game.

The legal debate over how gun records are used became particularly contentious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, when it was disclosed that the Justice Department and John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, had blocked the F.B.I. from using the gun-buying records to match against some 1,200 suspects who were detained as part of the Sept. 11 investigation. Mr. Ashcroft maintained that using the records in a criminal investigation would violate the federal law that created the system for instant background gun checks ....
This is typical of the Liberal Gun-Grabbers. They can't get the law written to suit them, but after the bill becomes Law they try to re-interpret it in their own warped context. Ashcroft was right; current federal law is NOT a registration scheme.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 states:

No such rule or regulation prescribed after the date of the enactment of the Firearms Owners' Protection Act may require that records required to be maintained under this chapter or any portion of the contents of such records, be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or any political subdivision thereof, nor that any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions be established. Nothing in this section expands or restricts the Secretary's authority to inquire into the disposition of any firearm in the course of a criminal investigation.

... but Justice Department lawyers who reviewed the issue said they saw no such prohibition.

One wonders whether they Justice Department lawyers bothered to read Federal law.

F.B.I. officials acknowledge shortcomings in the current approach to using gun-buying records in terror cases, but they say they are somewhat constrained by gun laws as established by Congress and interpreted by the Justice Department.
In other words:
'We (in the FBI) only enforce the laws you passed. You don't like it? Deal with it.'

* "FUN" ... the word probably should have been "GUN". A friendly reader graciously suggested that this was either a typo or a Freudian slip. Actually, this was a test. I slipped it in to see if anyone was paying attention. JD passed the test with flying colors. Thanx for the feedback! jB)

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

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