If stricter gun control laws aren’t passed, the terrorists win. At least, that seems to be the message of a new video ad campaign from one of the country’s most prominent gun-control advocacy groups.
In the fight to close the so-called “gun show loophole,” the Coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns is promoting recent statements made by an al Qaeda spokesman in a hefty ad campaign entitled “What Are You Waiting For?” that will run nationally on several major networks.
The video ad features the American-born al Qaeda member Adam Gadahn informing budding terrorists that “America is absolutely awash in easily obtainable firearms. You can go to a gun show and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle. So what are you waiting for?”
“Call your member of Congress,” intones the voice-over. “Tell them to close the loopholes that let terrorists and criminals buy guns.”
While the video may strike a frightful cord in the hearts of law-abiding citizens, the message is a bit misleading. Individuals cannot purchase fully automatic assault rifles at gun shows. The “gun show loophole” allows individuals to purchase and sell certain guns, including semi-automatics, without a federal license (or instant background check) at gun shows. Although they’re not required to have a federal license, many of the guns nevertheless must be registered with an owner.
Terrorist plots aside, the ad echoes talking points gun-control advocates have stressing for years, that “gun show loopholes” allow firearms to fall into the hands of criminals. A 2001 report from the National Institute of Justice, however, found that 45 percent of those already banned from purchasing a gun — usually because of prior criminal conviction — obtained one through illegal means. Another 12 percent of convicted criminals said they would make their purchase from a gun shop, as current laws — along with slow, out-of-date databases — already on the books are not enforced. According to Bureau of Justice statistics gathered by the 2nd Amendment Foundation, less than .7 percent of criminals obtain firearms at gun shows.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns, spearheaded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has attempted to interject itself into the national debate following widely-covered tragedies, such as the Virginia Tech Massacre. Shortly after the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Mayor Bloomberg, along with several Democratic lawmaker called for a “common sense” gun debate.
The result was New York Sen. Chuck Schumer’s proposed legislation that would ban the purchase of firearms for anyone arrested, but not actually convicted of petty drug offenses, within a six-year period. Carolyn McCarthy’s sister bill in the House, meanwhile, would greatly expand the definition of who is mentally incapable of purchasing a firearm.
Neither the Virginia Tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, nor alleged Arizona gunman Jared Loughner purchased their firearms at gun shows. There is also no concrete evidence that terrorist do purchase their firearms at gun shows, which — considering the crowds easily-mocked rabidly Patriotic, vaguely Islamophobic concerns about dark men with beards — should come as no surprise.
The week-long national ad campaign will run MSNBC, Fox News and CNN, according to Huffington Post’s Sam Stein.