Gun Loopholes and Terror

A report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) finds terrorists can easily purchase assault weapons and explosives in the US - federal agencies responsible for background checks don't cross-check terrorist watch lists. Further, a foreign visitor can buy a weapon after only 90 days in the United States.

Even without this report, lawmakers had enough evidence to address the issue. An Al Qaeda training manual - now in lawmakers' hands - spells out ways terrorists can get around US gun laws. And the FBI has arrested a man who purchased weapons at a gun show in Michigan for the Lebanon-based terror group Hizbullah. Moreover, the FBI also has arrested a Seattle man - allegedly with connections to Al Qaeda - looking to set up a firearms-training camp in Oregon.

New Jersey's two senators, Frank Lautenberg and Jon Corzine, both Democrats, commissioned the CRS report. They have introduced a bill that would require lengthier background checks and longer waiting periods to buy firearms during heightened terrorist alerts.

But it's not clear how quickly this bill will move through Congress. The Senate doesn't even appear inclined to extend the 1994 assault-weapons ban before it expires next year, even though everyone knows those weapons aren't for sport.

Congress must put the safety of the country first: It should extend the assault-weapons ban and close gun-law loopholes.

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