In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, Sen. Charles Schumer announced Sunday that he would be pushing legislation to bar those on the national terrorist watch list from purchasing guns.
At present, the federal government can't stop those on the watch list from buying guns or explosives unless they meet one of nine other disqualifying criteria, such as being a convicted felon.
“It is so simple, it seems that there could be no possible disagreement -- if you are on a terrorist watch list, you shouldn't be able to waltz into a gun store and purchase a deadly weapon,” Schumer said. “Anyone who is added to the terrorist watch list should also be added to the NICS database, along with felons, spousal abusers, and the mentally ill."
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, gives the attorney general the discretionary authority to deny the issuance of a gun, explosive or permit after a background check reveals that the potential buyer is a known or suspected terrorist.
It would add terrorist affiliations to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which would act as a red flag for weapons dealers. When a background check reveals a terrorist association, the attorney general would then be able to step in and utilize his or her discretionary authority to deny issuance of a weapon.
Last week officials announced that Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev discussed coming to New York to detonate the rest of their explosives in Times Square, but the plan never materialized because they ran out of gas and then got into a gunfight with police.
"While it is unclear where the Boston bombers obtained their weapons, one thing is crystal clear -- they would have likely had no problem walking into a gun store and purchasing whatever they want," Schumer said.