How the NRA aids terrorists and hampers law enforcement investigations

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Last week I posted about the "terror lophole" in the federal background checks law. F.B.I. Terrorist Watch List, Background Check Loophole – NYTimes:

The law that requires background checks on gun buyers is full of
loopholes, some big and some small, but the most egregious loophole of
all may be the fact that people on the F.B.I.’s terrorist watch list are
legally entitled to buy firearms and explosives
. And they have been
doing so at an alarming rate. Between February 2004 and December 2010,
individuals whose names turned up on the list were cleared to purchase
firearms or explosives a total of 1,321 times, according to the General
Accounting Office
. Felons, illegal immigrants and mentally ill
applicants are barred on the obvious grounds that they could present a
heightened risk of violence. Not so, terrorist suspects — an anomaly
that congress has occasionally tsk-tsked over since the 9/11 atrocities,
but done nothing substantial to repair.

The National Rifle Association has opposed measures in the past because the terrorist watch list has been shown
to "contain errors." So much for erring on the side of caution.

UPDATE: It turns out that the deceased Boston bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was on a terror watch list.

MSNBC's The Last Word did a segment last week on how the NRA on behalf of its clients, the merchants of death, has prevented taggants from being required for gunpowder. How the gun lobby has already blocked Boston’s bombing investigators:

One avenue of investigation is already closed off to forensic officials
working the Boston Marathon bombing case due to efforts dating back
decades by the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers.

Explosives manufacturers are required to place tracing elements known as identification taggants only in plastic explosives but not in gunpowder, thanks to lobbying efforts by the NRA and large gun manufacturing groups.

* * *

“They are concerned about tort liability,” Morhard added to MSNBC.com,
referring to manufacturers worried about being sued over the improper
use of their ammunition or explosives. Worries about the cost of adding
taggants to gunpowder were also raised by the Institute of Makers of
Explosives. NRA officials seem more concerned about government use of
technology to trace either firearms or the gunpowder used to make
ammunition. Fear of government use of tracking technologies is also
echoed online.

* * *

In the past, the NRA has argued that taggants could affect the trajectory of bullets and would also be a de facto form of weapons registration, reported the Los Angeles Times in 1995.

* * *

The same NRA has twice deployed its lobbyists to block the
mandated use of identification taggants by gunpowder manufacturers.

* * *

[T}he NRA successfully lobbied to have black and smokeless gunpowders
exempted from the explosives required to include taggant markers.
Members of Congress—including then-New York Rep. Charles Schumer– tried and failed again
after the 1993 New York City truck bombing of the World Trade Center.
The Clinton administration renewed the call for legislation requiring
identifying taggants right after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, whose
18th anniversary is Friday.

The NRA backed a National Research Council committee in 1998 to
examine taggant technologies, later claiming the committee found them to
be “unfeasible and of uncertain value.”

In fact, the committee concluded:
“Identification taggants and an associated record-keeping system could
be of further assistance in tracking down bombers in cases where basic
forensic techniques fail.” The committee added that “additional research
on these systems is needed to determine whether they are safe and
effective.”

Little or no known public research has been done on the matter since[.]

Think Progress has more. How Even A Terrorist Can Buy Explosive Powders Without A Background Check:

While explosives
such as ready-made bombs and major quantities of high-octane powders
are subject to stricter regulation and must be registered with the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, federal law exempts
several key types of explosives from licensing and background check
requirements. Even after the post-9/11 Safe Explosives Act, an
individual can buy up to 50 pounds of black powder and any amount of
smokeless powder (a more expensive blasting powder that leaves less
residue) without undergoing any licensing or background check. Sellers
of both products are not required to maintain any record-keeping of
their sales, and sellers of smokeless power need not even maintain a
license. Black powder is the most common explosive
used in pipe bombs because it is so inexpensive, according to a 2005
Department of Justice report. For context, experts say it only takes
about three pounds of powder to make one of the pressure-cooker bombs used in the Boston Marathon incident.

Since black and smokeless powders are used as gunpowder, it is
unsurprising that the National Rifle Association had a hand in blocking
stricter regulation. As a new Violence Policy Center report
explains, the NRA and another gun industry trade association lobbied
against regulation of black and smokeless powder repeatedly to achieve
the now-codified exemptions for gun powders.

Think Progress also discussed the taggants in gunpowder issue in an earlier post. How The NRA Has Made It Harder To Connect Criminals To Their Weapons.

I told you about Senator Frank Lautenberg's measure to close the “terror gap,” which did not even come up for a vote last week. Now Senator Lautenberg Harry Reid has introduced a bill — the Explosive Materials Background Check Act — on behalf of ailing Sen. Frank Lautenberg, for background checks for gunpowder. Senate Dems eye background checks for explosive powder:

Less well known, however, is the fact that the law currently allows people to buy up to 50 pounds of explosive "black powder" with no background check, and buy unlimited amounts of other explosive powders, such as "black powder substitute" and "smokeless powder."

Since
explosive powder is used in, well, explosives, Sens. Frank Lautenberg
(D-N.J.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have unveiled a bill requiring new
background checks.
Lautenberg said in a statement, "It defies common
sense that anyone, even a terrorist, can walk into a store in America
and buy explosive powders without a background check or any questions
asked."

[Lautenberg
Intros Bill to Require Background Checks for Sale of
Explosives Powder In Wake of Boston Tragedy
]

This might seem like the kind of idea even congressional Republicans
would have trouble opposing, but it's probably best to keep expectations
in check.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has taken up Sen. Lautenberg's "terror loophole" measure in a new bill. Guns and the Terrorist Watch List:

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), an NRA member with a "A" rating, would like to change the law.

A Senate sponsor of a defeated compromise on expanding gun sale
background checks says he'll consider changing the measure to add people
on the government's terror list to those forbidden from owning
firearms
. […]

Manchin told reporters Tuesday that following last week's bombing in
Boston, he might add language forbidding terrorists from getting guns.

And what did Little Lindsey Graham have to say about this, the man who would take away the constitutional rights of American citizens to due process simply by classifying them as an "enemy combatant" and renditioning them off to Guantano or places unknown?

"I think, anyone who's on the Terrorist Watch List should not lose their
Second Amendment right without the ability to challenge that
determination," Graham replied.

Wow! It's time that Republicans to stop aiding terrorists and hampering law enforcement investigations because of the NRA and the merchants of death.

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