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NYT Editorial: The N.R.A.’s Complicity in Terrorism

June 16, 2016

Today’s must read from The New York Times.

First, support reasonable efforts to close the so-called terror gap, which would make it harder for suspected terrorists to get their hands on a gun. In December, Congress considered legislation by Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, and Representative Peter King, a Republican, that would have given the F.B.I. the ability to prevent gun sales to people it had reason to believe might be connected to terrorism. The bill was based on a Bush administration proposal, and versions of it have been pushed for years, but Republicans on Capitol Hill, beholden to the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights organizations, voted it down.

This would be inexplicable under normal circumstances, but now that the Islamic State has openly called on lone-wolf attackers to take their war to the streets of America, it is a full-blown national-security hazard. All those attackers need to do is to buy a gun and swear allegiance to ISIS’ death cult. At least some of them are or have been under F.B.I. investigation, including Omar Mateen, the Orlando killer. If a law like Senator Feinstein’s were in place, authorities would have at least a chance of stopping aspiring terrorists from buying weapons.

Other effective measures include universal background checks to intercept people who are legally barred from gun ownership, like those convicted of domestic abuse and the mentally ill; and limits on magazine capacity, which some states have already enacted. Mr. Mateen was able to kill 49 people largely because the assault rifle he was using could fire 30-round clips as fast as he could pull the trigger. No civilian anywhere should be allowed to have that ability.   What makes the legislative inaction all the more maddening is that there is general public agreement in favor of attempts like these to reduce the bloodshed. An overwhelming majority of Americans — including gun owners and even N.R.A. members — support universal background checks, while strong majorities want to block sales to suspected terrorists and ban high-capacity magazines.

And yet the N.R.A. rejects these steps, even though it says that terrorists shouldn’t be able to get guns. Instead, it clings to the absurd fantasy that a heavily-armed populace is the best way to keep Americans safe. That failed in Orlando, where an armed security guard was on the scene but could not stop the slaughter.

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