No, not really. But that's the argument they are already trying to make.
But if you are a foreign or domestic terrorist or sympathizer living in the United States, whether connected to Al Qaeda or the Taliban or white supremacists, or even a radicalized loner, you can - in 33 states - walk into a gun show and purchase any kind of a weapon you want.
Sure, you can do that... if you can find whatever you want to buy from
a private seller and don't mind making your purchase while being observed by the multiple police and BATFE agents "loitering" in the vicinity. The vast majority of gun sales at gun shows are from
licensed dealers, who are, in fact, required to run the same background
checks at a gun show as they are if you went to their store.
You can even purchase something as deadly as a .50 caliber sniper rifle capable of penetrating some armored vehicles.
If you have $10,000 burning a hole in your pocket and can find such a rifle from a private seller. This is ... unlikely.
You can do this without a background check or waiting period and without notice to any national agency, not to Homeland Security, not to the FBI, not even to ATF - the federal agency tasked with investigating illegal use of firearms.
With the Boston Marathon bombings we learned what use it is to give notice to a federal investigative agency that someone may be a terrorist interested in committing mass murder: precisely zero.
As a recent Salon piece notes, the federal government can prevent a firearm sale for only 11 specific reasons suspected ties to terrorism, or even suspicion that a gun would be used in an attack, are not one of them.
is not proof
, and in the United States, firearms ownership is a Constitutional right that cannot be taking away without due process of law.
Moreover, between February 2004 and December 2010, over 90% of the 1,453 people on the federal terror watch list that tried to buy a gun were allowed to.
This would be the same terror watch list that famously stopped Senator Ted Kennedy from flying? The one that anyone who works in an airport can anonymously add anyone that annoys them to, and which is impossible to remove yourself from (unless, of course, you are Senator Ted Kennedy)?
Clue: They were allowed to buy a gun because they had not been convicted of a felony or qualifying misdemeanor in a court of law. That's the standard.
The organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns notes, "American-born terrorist Azzam al-Amriki touted the ease with which, '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.'"
Azzam was either ignorant or lying, because in the real world, if you want to buy a fully-automatic assault rifle, it will take at least six months of
background checks, a $200 tax stamp to register your purchase with the federal government, permission from the BATFE, additional permission from your local police chief (leave your donation to my re-election campaign with the officer at the front desk on your way out), assuming you can even find one because they are no longer legal to manufacture for civilian use, and have at least $6,000 on hand to pay the prior owner.
Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the brothers accused of the Boston Marathon bombing last week also engaged in a deadly firefight with police. They had with them bombs, handguns, a rifle and more than 250 rounds of ammunition. The guns were unlicensed and how they obtained them is still under investigation.
They lived in Massachusetts. That state requires a license to purchase a firearm, which presumably is not issued without a background check. They did not obtain a license for their firearms. That law, requiring a license from the government in order to own a gun, is the gold standard of gun control advocates (at least those who claim they don't want total confiscation). It did nothing.
I will say that again.
It did nothing.
Criminals and terrorists do not obey the law.
Equally stunning; current federal law allows someone to purchase as much as 50 pounds of explosive "black powder" -- the apparent explosive the Tsarnaev brothers used in their pressure cooker bombs -- and unlimited amounts of "smokeless powder" and "black powder substitute" without a background check.
Equally stunning: current federal law allows me to pull up to a retail establishment and drive away with as much gasoline and fertilizer as I care to buy. Should we run a background check on drivers? Gardeners? Farmers? Cooks? Chemistry teachers?
We are a free society. We depend on people being, basically, good people who don't need a police officer following them around 24 hours a day. Sometimes that has risks.
We will do much, much better identifying the people who are actively malicious and dealing with them as people, rather than trying to turn the whole country into a padded cell.
Here it comes... "I support the Second Amendment, but..."
I believe that the Constitution -- including the Second Amendment guaranteeing the right to keep and bear arms -- is a vital document enumerating civil liberties and protections the nation must accord all its citizens. But as Abraham Lincoln averred, and the Supreme Court has echoed, the Constitution is not a suicide pact. The courts have allowed First Amendment free speech rights to be tempered as to time and place. The courts have allowed exigent warrantless searches under the Fourth Amendment. Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and to be informed of the right to counsel may be briefly delayed when public safety is threatened.
I support the Second Amendment. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. I also support the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth amendments -- the real versions without the Supreme Court's watered-down list of exceptions.
Thank you, Drew, for openly admitting for everyone to see that you are willing to throw out the whole Constitution, not just the Second Amendment, in return for some nebulous feeling of safety that is nothing more than a pretty lie.