"When anyone uses a firearm, whether it's the kind of terrorism that we are trying to combat with al-Qaeda and these non-state terrorists, or as a former district attorney involved in the conviction of a individual who used firearms against innocent citizens, regardless of how we define terrorism, that individual and that family felt that they were victims of a terrorist act. Brandishing a firearm in front of anybody under any set of circumstances is a terrorist act and needs to be dealt with."
Confirmation Hearing for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, January 17, 2003
Terrorism and Guns
Terrorists have identified the lax gun laws of the United States as a means to advance their evil goal to terrorize and harm the American people. Indeed, existing gun laws are lenient and federal enforcement has been grossly inadequate. As a result, terrorists have the ability to purchase firearms legally in the United States and then convert them into weapons of mass terror.
An al-Qaeda training manual recovered in Afghanistan entitled "How Can I Train Myself for Jihad," advised terrorists to "obtain assault weapons legally" in the United States because firearms are readily available and gun laws are enforced inadequately.
On the evening of the September 11th terrorist attack, a federal jury convicted Ali Boumelhem, a known member of the terrorist group Hezbollah on seven counts of weapons charges and conspiracy to ship weapons and ammunition to Lebanon.
In 1997, Ali Abu Kamal bought a Beretta handgun from a gun shop which he used to open fire on tourists on the observation deck of the Empire State Building in New York City. Kamal killed one person and wound six others. Although he was not a U.S. citizen, Kamal was able to purchase the Beretta handgun only 37 days after his arrival in the U.S. by using a motel receipt as proof of residency.
Last year, John Muhammad and John Malvo terrorized the Washington DC area for more than three weeks as they embarked on a shooting spree with a sniper rifle, murdering 13 innocent people before being caught. The sniper rifle was a Bushmaster XM15 rifle that was missing from the Bull's Eye Shooter Supply in Tacoma, Washington, but was never reported to local, state or federal authorities.
Common Sense Regulation and Enforcement Now more than ever, it is imperative that Congress reassess the nation's vulnerabilities to acts of terror and pass sensible legislation to protect the American people and secure our homeland. The Homeland Security Gun Safety Act of 2003 is a comprehensive Act to combat the illegal flow of firearms to terrorists.
How the Act Would Work
- Require the maintenance of records for certain handgun transfers to coincide with the current Homeland Security Advisory System during heightened terrorist risk; and
- Close loopholes that have allowed terrorists to acquire firearms Strengthen the regulatory controls and enforcement of gun dealers who violate gun laws Implementing this rational approach to gun regulations for the security of our Nation is of paramount importance and needs to be addressed now before another disaster occurs.
As President Bush said in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on November 10, 2001, "We have the responsibility to deny weapons to terrorists and to actively prevent private citizens from providing them." Accordingly, the Homeland Security Gun Safety Act would prevent terrorists from acquiring guns and firearms in the United States and then converting them into weapons of mass terror. This bill is a necessary tool in our fight against terror."