More than 2,000 suspected terrorists attempted to legally buy guns in the United States between 2004 and 2014, and over 91 percent of them succeeded, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
Active shooter terrorism is a growing threat in America, as illustrated prominently by the San Bernadino shooting this past December. In fact, since September 11, 2001, nearly every terror attack in the United States has involved firearms.
But a loophole in federal law – known as the “terror gap” – allows known and suspected terrorists to pass a criminal background check and legally buy a gun.
Does that sound absurd and ridiculous? It is. Does it defy common sense? It does. Do most Ohioans support action to correct this absurd and ridiculous situation that defies common sense? You bet your ass they do.
According to new research from Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford and retired American astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, 78 percent of Ohioans support Congressional action to close the terror gap by making it illegal for known or suspected terrorists to purchase guns.
In an interview with Plunderbund Friday, Capt. Kelly pointed to the high percentage of suspected terrorists who were able to purchase a firearm legally.
“(We) have a government that refuses to do something about it, specifically Congress,” he said. “When this gets voted on, again and again and again, it always fails. And it’s been failing since President Bush was in office.”
The poll – exclusively made available to Plunderbund over the weekend – was conducted on behalf of ARS by Public Policy Polling in 584 telephone interviews from April 15 to April 17 with registered voters in Ohio who are likely to vote in the 2016 presidential election. The margin of error for the data was given at plus or minus 4.1 percent.
According to results, most Ohioans don’t know the “terror gap” loophole exists, but once they learn about it they are more likely to vote for political candidates who support closing it. Only 32 percent were aware that individuals on the FBI’s Terrorist Watchlist are legally able to buy firearms in the U.S.
After they were given more information on the terror gap, 88 percent of Ohioans said they believe that taking action to protect Americans from active shooter terrorism is very important or somewhat important. The poll found that 72 percent of Ohioans are more likely to support a candidate for Congress who commits to taking action to close the terror gap.
There is also widespread support across the country to end this loophole, with 82 percent of Americans and 75 percent of NRA members support closing the terror gap, according to research conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine.
Both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations have called on Congress to close this loophole by giving the U.S. Attorney General the authority to deny suspected terrorists the ability to buy a gun – but U.S. Congress has failed to act. Why?
“The NRA doesn’t want it. The gun lobby opposes it,” Kelly explained in his interview with Plunderbund. “It’s just their approach. They oppose everything. They say it’s about gun rights and due process.”
But most of those people on the FBI Terrorist Watchlist are foreign nationals, he noted.
“More than half are foreign nationals,” Kelly said. “A member of Congress should be making a decision as to what’s in the best interest of Americans and what’s in the best interest of our national security. A member of Congress serves at the pleasure of his or her constituents.”
That’s why Americans for Responsible Solutions has launched an effort to educate voters, harness major grassroots support, and spur action from leaders to close this terror gap, Kelly said.
The goal of ARS is to let Americans know how their representatives are voting on this issue, he said, and the issue comes up typically once every couple years. So stay tuned, folks, and hold your elected representatives’ feet to the fire.
Further information on this issue can be found at ClosingTheTerrorGap.org.
David DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure based out of Athens, Ohio. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He can be found on Twitter @DC_DeWitt and on Facebook here.