NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In a stunning discovery in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, a loophole in federal gun laws allows suspected terrorists to buy guns in the U.S.
And as CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, suspected terrorists have done just that.
“It’s horrifying. It’s terrifying. This is a tragedy waiting to happen,” said Long Island U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.)
King exposed the loophole in federal gun laws that allow people on the FBI terrorist watch list to go legally into a gun store and buy handguns and assault weapons.
The watch list is not used when gun store owners do background checks, and in light of the Paris terror attacks this past Friday, King wants the law changed as soon as possible.
“This is an incredibly dangerous loophole,” King said. “We see all the potential threats and dangers that we have, and we’ve seen what’s happened in Paris. Don’t make it easier for them by allowing them to go into a gun shop and buy a gun.”
What upsets King is that the government has records to indicate thousands of people on the terror watch list have already made gun purchases.
A total of 2,233 people on the watch list have tried to buy guns in the past decade, and 2,043 – 91 percent – of them have succeeded, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.
“It’s beyond ridiculous that we have people on a terrorist watch list that are able to purchase guns,” said terror expert Manny Gomez. “These are the same types of people that are out there in Paris shooting up sidewalk cafés.”
Gomez, a former FBI agent who was assigned to fight terror, said the government should act immediately.
“At the very minimum, anybody that has a licensed gun that’s on this terror watch list should have those guns taken away – period,” Gomez said.
Ironically, police Commissioner Bill Bratton said he has often wondered why the terrorists have favored bombs and explosive devices.
“Particularly since the growth of terrorism, we have wondered why we don’t have more terrorist-related incidents involving guns,” Bratton said.
King has been trying to close the terror watch list gun loophole for 10 years. He said he has been thwarted by the National Rifle Association – even though a 2012 poll for a pro-gun group found that 79 percent of gun owners support keeping guns away from those on the watch list.
Calls to the NRA seeking comment were not returned.