A couple of high-profile news reports this month should have the Bush administration realizing that the fight against terrorism must be waged on the homefront as well. Two weeks ago the New York Times reported on a Congressional investigation which found that many suspected terrorists on federal watch lists were legally able to buy firearms in this country. Apparently, the lax gun laws in this country don't automatically prevent someone on one of those watch lists from purchasing a gun. Whose idea of homeland security is this?
Sunday's 60 Minutes feature story on gunrunner Florin Krasniqi further underscored how vulnerable our gun laws are to abuse. Krasniqi, who came into the country as an illegal immigrant, spent years smuggling .50-caliber rifles out of the country for use in his homeland of Albania. And he did it all with ease. Says Krasniqi, "Anything you need to run a small guerrilla army, you can buy here in America. You have all the guns you need here to fight a war. M-16s. That's what the U.S. soldiers carry in Iraq. All the rifles which U.S. soldiers use in every war, you can buy them in a gun store or a gun show."
Weapons that terrorists can use to kill lots of people are readily available to them here, and instead of preventing this from happening, we seem to be encouraging it. The NY Times article mentioned the "absurd policy" currently in place which destroys records of a terrorism suspect's gun purchase after 24 hours. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has the right idea in wanting to store those records for at least ten years. If Republicans are serious about the war on terrorism, they will know to abandon their allegiance to the NRA on this issue and stop defending the "privacy rights" of terrorism suspects with regards to gun purchases. This is not a privacy issue, this is a national security issue.
I'd like to take it one step further. It seems to me that, after we've seen this huge problem exposed, the only proper course of action to take is to ban suspected terrorists from purchasing guns altogether. The loose restrictions we already have in place at least prevent felons from buying guns. Surely lawmakers on Capitol Hill can see the wisdom in denying sworn enemies of our country the means by which to harm us.