Wittenberg Bill Prevents Terrorists from Acquiring Guns

Those on federal watchlist not currently prohibited from buying firearms
Thursday, March 10, 2016

LANSING — State Representative Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park) and House Democratic Floor Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) introduced House Bill 5443, which would prohibit the sale to and possession of firearms by those who are on the consolidated Terrorist Watchlist maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center and administered by the FBI. This is a step that the state of New Jersey has already taken to combat domestic terrorism, with similar legislation signed into law in 2013.

“It is a huge threat to public safety when we allow those who are affiliated with terrorist activities to legally stockpile and own firearms,” Wittenberg said. “I’m introducing this legislation to help prevent those future tragedies and avoid having to face the question of ‘What should we have done?’ by doing that something now.”

Currently, those who are on the Terrorist Watchlist are not specifically barred from possessing or purchasing firearms and explosives. From 2004 to 2014, more than 2,233 attempted purchases were made from American dealers, and in 91 percent of those purchases, the buyer passed the background check despite being on the Terrorist Watchlist.

“A large majority of not only the general public but of even NRA members agree with this common-sense reform,” Singh said. “If being on a terrorist watch list is cause enough to prevent an individual from getting on an airplane, then it should certainly be a determining factor in whether or not a person can possess a firearm.”

This type of legislation has wide support, with 76 percent of gun owners and 71 percent of NRA members supporting the prohibition of people on the Terrorist Watchlist from possessing guns. The legislation includes methods of appeal for those who believe that they were wrongly put on the list. In total, there have been 17 terrorist attacks since Sept. 11 in United States, with six resulting in deaths. All of the fatal attacks had firearms involved.