Tighten U.S. gun laws, stop terrorists: mayors

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WASHINGTON -- America's love affair with guns is a passionate and enduring one, the bonds strengthening even further in recent years thanks to the country's powerful pro-gun lobby.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/06/2011 (4062 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

WASHINGTON — America’s love affair with guns is a passionate and enduring one, the bonds strengthening even further in recent years thanks to the country’s powerful pro-gun lobby.

But could the prospect of al-Qaida terrorists exploiting U.S. gun loopholes to purchase weapons for sinister purposes change historic attitudes about the right to bear arms in America?

A group of more than 600 urban mayors is clearly hoping recent remarks by Adam Gadahn, an American-born spokesman for al-Qaida now known as Azzam al-Amriki, might strike a chord of fear in a country still deeply traumatized by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

In a national advertising campaign that kicked off Tuesday, the Coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, founded by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, is drawing attention to Gadahn’s call for would-be terrorists to take advantage of some of the most lax gun laws on the planet.

A TV spot, airing for a week on several major U.S. networks, features Gadahn telling followers how easy it is to attend gun shows and walk away with a variety of high-powered assault weapons without having to submit to a background check.

“This is a golden opportunity,” Gadahn says in the ad.

“America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show … and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle without a background check. So what are you waiting for?”

Gadahn is wrong — consumers can purchase semi-automatics at gun shows, not fully automatic assault weapons — but private sellers at such events are not, in fact, required to perform the same background checks on customers as their federally licensed dealers.

Bloomberg said Gadahn’s remarks should serve as a wake-up call to the U.S. Congress.

“Criminals already know how to take advantage of gaps in our gun laws, and now al-Qaida knows too,” he said Tuesday in a statement.

“You are checked against the terror watchlist to board an airplane, but you don’t have to be checked when buying assault weapons. Weak gun laws aren’t just a crime problem, they’re a national security threat.”

Federal reports suggest terror suspects have already managed to purchase more than 1,300 weapons in the United States since 2004.

Shortly after Gadahn made his call to arms earlier this month, several pro-gun control groups wrote to U.S. President Barack Obama, urging him to push for tighter gun laws.

“The time is now to act to prevent a large-scale terror attack with firearms,” the letter read.

“The United States’ weak gun laws are well-known throughout the terrorist community and today act as a beacon for lone wolves and small groups of terrorists with few resources seeking to inflict maximum damage.”

The mayors have been pressuring Congress for years to close the private-seller loophole.

The Justice Department has said that the Obama administration supports closing the gun-show loophole, but various pieces of gun-control legislation, including one that would address the loophole, are floundering in Congress.

Republicans in the House of Representatives even voted down a proposal in May that would have prevented those on the FBI’s terrorist watchlist from purchasing firearms.

— The Canadian Press

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