One senator calls this the 'terror gap' and vows to plug it, but gun owners fear the government might use the FBI's terror list to crack down on law-abiding citizens.
Nearly 900 people on the FBI’s terror watch list applied for and received a certificate to buy a gun in the United States between 2004 and 2009, according to a Government Accountability Office report released today.
Gun-control activists say the report demonstrates potentially lethal flaws in gun laws. But gun-rights advocates counter that the terror list is perhaps a greater menace in itself. They see it as ripe for manipulation – allowing the government to tar people as terrorists when it is politically expedient to do so.
The FBI can halt the purchase of a gun by someone with a criminal conviction, so the 900 people in the GAO report "are people who have no criminal conviction, but they're on this mystery list," says Gary Kleck, author of "Stopping Power: Why 70 million Americans own guns."
The GAO document is a follow-up to a 2005 report, which said the FBI cleared gun purchases for 80 percent of terror watch subjects who applied. The current report shows that the percentage has gone up: of 963 background checks, 865 were given the go-ahead – 90 percent.