Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank asks says the gun lobby seems to be fighting for terrorists’ right to buy firearms. The George W. Bush administration urged Congress to pass a law barring people on the terrorist watch list from buying explosives and guns. The gun lobby objected. Now the Obama administration is urging Congress to pass the same legislation, and the gun lobby continues to object. On Wednesday, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly came to Capitol Hill to plead for Congress to change the absurdity in the law that keeps those with alleged terrorist ties off airplanes but enables them to legally buy guns and explosives.
“At a time when the threat of terrorism is still very real, as we in New York City know all too well,” Bloomberg told a Senate committee, “I think it’s imperative that Congress close this terror gap in our gun laws and close it quickly.” “Failure to do so places this country at even greater risk,” seconded Kelly. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who has joined the cause, warned that if a terrorist uses a gun that he buys legally, “there would be blood on our hands.” The hearing, before Joe Lieberman (I-CT)’s homeland security panel, provided a rare chance for gun-control advocates to take the offensive in a debate that has mostly gone against them in recent years. The Government Accountability Office has found that people on terrorist watch lists had bought guns or explosives from U.S. dealers 1,119 times over the past six years — largely because the federal government has no power to stop them. (The suspect in last weekend’s New York City attempted bombing was not on a terrorist watch list.)