Sounds awful, right?  “Suspected terrorists” legally allowed to purchase guns?  The problem is that it is not as clear cut as the NY Daily News would have you believe.


First and foremost, remember that the right to keep and bear arms is a Constitutionally protected civil right..confirmed as such by the Supreme Court…and the “terrorist watch list” is not due process. In fact, the standard by which the FBI adds someone to the list is the simple “reasonable suspicion” standard, which in the world of law enforcement is not even sufficient to justify arresting someone…much less convicting them. (You must meet the standard of “probable cause” to make an arrest, and “beyond a reasonable doubt” to convict in court.)  Simply being “suspected” of something is not enough to deny someone their rights.  Also, as a terror fighting tool, the “terror watch list” it is something of a joke. Remember, both Sen. Ted Kennedy and the Tsarnaev brothers were on it.

Second, the fact that a firearms sale was given the “proceed” status from NICS means that the FBI…the Federal Bureau of Investigation…looked at the sale and approved it. While the terror watch list is not one of the three databases automatically accessed during a NICS check, the FBI can (and does) give a questionable request a deeper look if there are reasons to be concerned. This will usually result in a “delay” response from NICS, and the sale may not take place until a “proceed” response is sent, or at the seller’s discretion after three business days.

Another important point is that there may be as many as a million names on the list.  A million?  There are a million actual terrorists in the United States?  Of course not.  It’s anybody’s guess how many are legitimate terror suspects (not that suspicion warrants denial of a civil right…see above), but it is only common sense that it is actually a small minority of these people who are connected to terror in any way.  This leaves hundreds of thousands of completely innocent Americans who may be subjected to unjust treatment, simply because somebody thought they were “suspicious.”

So assuming the NY Daily News is correct…that 2,000 people on the list were approved to purchase a gun…that translates to a whopping 0.2% of all the people on the terrorist watch list.  Two-tenths of one percent.  But these people also submitted to an FBI background check, passed that check, and were subsequently approved…by the FBI…to purchase a firearm.  And if accept that only a percentage of the million individuals on the terror watch list are actually involved in terrorism, then it would also stand to reason that a similar fraction would apply to the 2,000 who bought guns.  In reality, it is most likely that the percentage of that 2,000 individuals who are both on the terrorist watch list and passed an FBI background check is extremely small.  If the same two-tenths of a percent were applied to the 2,000…that would be only four individuals!

While no one wants any terrorist to be able to obtain firearms, an honest look at the facts reveals that the NY Daily News is using misinformation to advance a jihad on your rights.


— Dave Cole

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