People on Terror Watch Lists cleared to buy guns

The FBI has three business days to process background checks

(CNN) – In the wake of the horrific Orlando club shooting, focus has turned once again to the issue of gun control. Democrats in the Senate are filibustering in an effort to force reform legislation on to the floor.

One of the issue gun control advocates are most concerned about is the fact that being on a Terror Watch List doesn’t necessarily prevent a person from purchasing deadly weapons.

Even though the Pulse Nightclub killer had once been on the FBI’s Terrorist Watch List, in the days before his murderous rampage, he was able to buy two firearms; one of them a MCX assault-style semi-automatic.

He’s not the only one. 9 out of 10 people on Terror Watch Lists, who want to buy a gun, are given the greenlight, after passing a federal background check, according to a government accountability report.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, (D) New York, said, “No one outside of our military, who are trained to use these weapons, needs to have access to a weapon that can fire hundreds of bullets a minute, hundreds of bullets in a minute.”

On the Senate floor, a filibuster from democratic lawmakers to force action on gun legislation. “We have to make it harder for hateful, angry, violent people to get a hand on a weapon,” said Sen. Gillibrand.

In 2015, 23.1-million background checks were run through the FBI’s national database. Of those, 244 people were identified as being on the Terrorist Watch List; 223 were approved and 21 were denied.

To be denied you have to be, among other reasons, a felon, fugitive, domestic abuser, undocumented immigrant, or have a legally declared mental health issue.  Being on the Terror Watch List is not an automatic strike.

The figures over the last 12 years have remained consistent. In 2004 the FBI began cross checking criminal backgrounds against Terror Watch Lists. Since then, 2,477 on the watch list received a background check; 2,265 passed and 212 were denied. Meaning 91% passed the background check.

The FBI director says, joint terrorism task forces are alerted if someone on the watch list is cleared to buy a firearm. The nightclub killer was taken off the watch list in 2014 when it was determined that he was not a threat.

The FBI has three business days to process background checks; if three days go by and the FBI hasn’t completed the background check, the gun dealer can sell the firearm to the buyer.

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