By Larry Keane, National Shooting Sports Foundation
Not surprisingly, ISIS is wrong about another aspect of how things work in the United States.
According to the Washington Post, terrorist propaganda materials argue it is easy to obtain a firearm in the U.S. with no ID and no background check. While the materials make it clear that one cannot walk into a federally licensed firearm retailer (FFL) and expect to walk out with a firearm without undergoing a background check, there are, not surprisingly, plenty of other facts that ISIS gets wrong.
Unfortunately, the Washington Post does not seek to set the record straight about the facts. To assist on that front, below we will debunk the assertions published by the terrorist group and reprinted by the Washington Post.
The materials suggest that gun shows are an “easier means of arming oneself for an attack.” However, every time a firearm is purchased from an FFL, a background check is required by federal law. Most of the vendors selling firearms at gun shows, about 75 percent, are FFLs, who are required to run background checks at gun shows just as if the transaction were taking place in their store. In practice, federal law is just the floor of restrictions on gun shows. Many gun show promoters require that all vendors leasing space at a show, including private parties, must agree to run background checks, regardless of whether they hold federal licenses or not. The vast majority of guns sold at gun shows go through federal background checks.
This is why so few criminals obtain firearms at gun shows. According to the Justice Department, less than one percent (0.7) of state and federal prison inmates that possessed a firearm during their current offense acquired their guns from gun shows. By contrast, nearly 40 percent reported acquiring their guns illegally, such as by theft.
ISIS goes so far as to suggest ambushing and robbing an FFL if it’s not possible to obtain a firearm legally. If it were as easy to get a firearm illegally as the article suggests, why would they need to steal guns?
The Washington Post proceeds to note that gun control groups call for banning people on the terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms. We’ve tackled this issue before on this blog. Suffice it to say, the list is huge, secret and deeply flawed, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
What we do know is that when an individual attempts to purchase a firearm, his or her name is bounced against the watch list and if there is a match, the FBI NICS notifies federal law enforcement and the transaction automatically goes into a delayed status for three business days (meaning the gun is not transferred during a gun show) while federal law enforcement is given an opportunity to determine if there is a lawful basis to deny someone and if not, to take appropriate law enforcement actions they deem appropriate.
And as far as the suggestion that “you can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check…” the terrorists are wrong again. Even in a private party transaction, it is illegal to purchase an automatic firearm without a special ATF license and plenty of red tape.
One would think that the Washington Post would be more concerned about the sources it uses for its reporting. We wonder if ISIS has written about how to fool the mainstream media.
Larry Keane is the National Shooting Sports Foundation Sr. VP & General Counsel.