Several top Democrat lawmakers this week revised their gun control argument by claiming tighter gun laws will help prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons in the United States.
For example, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) advised lawmakers to include the threat of armed terrorists acquiring more weapons and ammunition in the United States due to the nation's lax gun regulations in any legislation to control firearms. He reminded his colleagues of an al-Qaeda video that urged jihadists to utilize the lack of gun restrictions to arm themselves and their comrades.
Senator Lautenberg so far this year alone proposed three gun control bills including one co-sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez, also of New Jersey. The "Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Criminals Act" is co-sponsored by Senators Durbin, Feinstein, Levin, Reed, Schumer and Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrats all.
But, a top Republican lawmaker rejects the notion that Congress should re-examine the nation's gun laws after al-Qaeda urged Muslims to attack America by exploiting loose firearm rules.
Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that merely tightening gun laws to address the terrorist threat would be like surrendering to terrorists at the expense of Americans' Constitutional rights.
"But simply because terrorists abuse our liberties doesn't mean that we should limit the rights of law-abiding Americans. On the contrary, to limit our rights is to give in to terrorists and the fear they try to spread," he claimed.
"The [House Judiciary] Committee has been called the guardian of the Constitution and each of its subcommittees has roots in that document. The House Judiciary Committee usually sends the greatest number of substantive bills to the House floor each year," said Congressman Lamar.
"In the last Congress over one thousand bills and resolutions were referred to the Committee on such subjects as terrorism, crime, immigration, bankruptcy, civil liberties, constitutional amendments, patents and copyrights," he added.
Adam Gadahn (born Adam Pearlman), an American-born spokesman for al-Qaeda, released a video in May calling for Muslim terrorists to wage violent jihad against Americans by taking advantage of the so-called "gun-show loophole" -- a distinction in federal law that allows unlicensed gun sellers to peddle weapons without performing background checks on prospective buyers the way licensed dealers are required to do.
The 33-year old Gadahn was indicted in the Central District of California for treason and material support to Al Qaeda. The charges are related to Gadahn's alleged involvement in a number of terrorist activities, including providing aid and comfort to Al Qaeda and services for Al Qaeda.
"America is absolutely awash with easily attainable firearms," Gadahn said. "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?"
The video refueled a long-standing push from gun reformers for Congress to take additional precautions to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists and other violent criminals. However, gun owners and their advocates believe that when the possibility of terrorists to obtain firearms is so evident, it would be foolhardy to strip American citizens of the right to keep and bear arms.
According to U.S. law, ineligibility does not extend to those on the FBI's terrorist watch list, which houses data on people "known or appropriately suspected to be or have been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism."
"If terrorists can get weapons from illegal sources, why would they be stopped by American police from acquiring weapons illegally as part of a planned strategy," said political strategist Mike Baker.
"Besides federal law, current state laws bar certain people from buying guns, including felons, illegal immigrants, spousal abusers and the severely mentally ill. In March, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that almost 250 people on the terror watch list were cleared to purchase firearms last year," he added.
Gun-reform advocates are also urging legislation to require all gun sellers – not only licensed dealers – to perform background checks on potential buyers.
Republicans who spoke out against the proposal said that restricting gun sales to people on the watch list would infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of those on the list by mistake. Sensenbrenner also argued that denying guns to suspected terrorists would tipped them off to the fact that they were being watched.
A January 2011 national survey conducted by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that an overwhelming majority of Americans support Senator Lautenberg's gun safety proposals. The bipartisan study revealed that 88 percent of Americans favor prohibiting people on the terrorist watch lists from purchasing guns, 89 percent favor eliminating the gun show loophole, and 58 percent support banning the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Smith disagrees. The Texas Republican said policymakers should focus their anti-terror efforts on using "strong investigative tools to track down terrorists before they strike."
He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc.