New Government Report: Terrorist Watchlist Screening: FBI Has Enhanced Its Use of Information from Firearm and Explosives Background Checks to Support Counterterrorism Efforts: Congressional Testimony

May 10, 2010 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

Terrorist Watchlist Screening: FBI Has Enhanced Its Use of Information from Firearm and Explosives Background Checks to Support Counterterrorism Efforts: Congressional Testimony
By Eileen R. Larence (Paperback, 17 pages, 2010, $15)

Membership in a terrorist organization does not prohibit a person from possessing firearms or explosives under current federal law. However, for homeland security and other purposes, the FBI is notified when a firearm or explosives background check involves an individual on the terrorist watchlist.

In light of the recent failed Times Square bombing, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee:

“When gun dealers run background checks, should F.B.I. agents have the authority to block sales of guns and explosives to those on the terror watch lists — and deemed too dangerous to fly?” the New York Times reported the Mayor asking. “I believe strongly that they should.”

According to GAO, from February 2004 to February 2010, 1,228 people listed on an FBI terror watchlist had tried to buy weapons. About 90 percent, some 1,119, had succeeded. Faisal Shahzad, the alleged bomber, was not on the list in March.

This statement addresses: (1) how many checks have resulted in matches with the terrorist watchlist; (2) how the FBI uses information from these checks for counterterrorism purposes; and (3) pending legislation that would give the Attorney General authority to deny certain checks. Includes recommendations. Charts and tables.

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