Boston bomber suspects Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev reportedly horded a small arsenal of guns. They were automatic weapons. They did not have to go through a background check or have a permit. Authorities will now be forced to spend countless hours and personnel trying to track down exactly how, when and where they got their guns. They could have easily have gotten them over the internet, at a gun show, or just simply bought them from an individual seller on the street or anywhere else.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev turned up on a government watch list a couple of years before the bombing attack. Barring would be terrorists from getting guns in the US was supposed to be one of the gaping loopholes that Congress would have closed if the Senate gun control bill had passed. It would have barred anyone flagged by authorities as a potential terrorist threat from purchasing guns. As it now stands, even if the FBI had tagged Tsarnaev as a threat, federal law bars it from doing anything to stop him from buying guns. Massachusetts has tough gun laws that make it illegal to own a gun without a permit and to possess a gun clip of more than 10 round capacity manufactured after 1994. But Tsarnaev didn't need to worry about either of these prohibitions. He could have easily gone to any neighboring state and bought high ammo capacity guns and carted them back into Boston without any worry of being discovered. This is another loophole that the Senate bill would have closed. It too died just as quickly as the expanded background requirement checks and the assault weapons ban.
No wonder that a 2011 video has surfaced and played on cable networks had a known Al Qaeda spokesperson exhorting would be terrorists to take full advantage of the lax federal gun controls that allow just about anyone to openly get guns no matter whether federal officials have fingered them as a domestic danger or not. It didn't take the Al-Qaeda mouthpiece's exhortation to fanatics to buy guns in the country for many to exploit the weak gun laws. Many have. During a six year stretch from 2004 through 2010, according to a Government Accounting Office report, individuals on the government's terrorist watch-list bought more than 1,300 guns. Even though federal laws specifically list nine categories of persons considered dangerous and presumably barred from buying guns, not one of the nine categories deal with anyone on the government's terror watch list.
The NRA through its awesome financial, lobbying and propaganda machine bullied, harassed, and cajoled the Senate into submission and killed the gun control bill with its anti-terrorist gun closing amendments. No surprise then, that the NRA has been mum on the obvious connection between its kill any and all gun control measures and the Boston terror attack. But the NRA made it clear in 2007 that being on the government's terrorist watch-list wasn't going to move it to back off from its drumbeat assault on gun control measures. NRA Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre branded the watch-list as "flawed" and "inaccurate" and took a big swipe at the government for allegedly committing "abuses" in even compiling the list. The NRA's boundless capacity to come up with endless rationales no matter how ludicrous to bolster its attack position against gun controls was that the watch-list was just another ploy by the government to clamp down on gun sales and ownership. The NRA's answer was simply to keep terrorists off the streets and there won't be a problem. LaPierre didn't say how the government could accomplish that feat if its own method of tracking those potential terrorists was judged by the NRA to be "flawed" and presumably useless.
Despite the NRA's tortured logic the horrific reality is that Tsarnaev's gun stash was no aberration. Anti-terror experts have repeatedly noted that nearly all of those individuals that have committed terrorist acts or actions have used guns that were purchased legally in the country. This flies squarely in the face of the popular notion that terrorists somehow are supplied by foreign sources or that they smuggle weapons into the country from some sinister foreign group.
The NRA, though, was hardly the only one that was unmoved enough to admit any tie of the carnage in Boston to lax gun laws. The senators that caved to the NRA and helped torpedo the gun control bill and the amendments that might make a difference in keeping guns out of the hands of future terror bent individuals were unrepentant. Not one of them has given any public hint that their vote may have been way off base considering the ever present gun mayhem dangers, and that Boston could and should be a spur to reconsider tougher gun curbs. Even so, the Boston bomb attack still stands as a big slap at their and the NRA's gun control obstinacy.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new ebook is How the NRA Terrorizes Congress--The NRA's Subversion of the Gun Control Debate ( Amazon ). He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Radio Los Angeles and KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network.
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