Schumer: Close loophole in gun buyer database
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People such as accused Tucson shooter Jared Loughner who fail a military drug test or tell military recruiters they have a history of "regular drug use" should be prohibited from buying guns, Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday.
Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he would urge President Barack Obama to issue an executive order requiring the military to share recruiting data on drug use with the FBI, which administers the national database that gun dealers must check before selling a firearm.
Loughner, charged with the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in a rampage that killed six and wounded 18 others, told a Tucson, Ariz., Army recruiter in 2008 that he had a history of illegal drug use, though he never took a test. As a juvenile, Loughner was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia, though the charge was expunged from his record after he completed a diversion program, The Associated Press reported. The Army rejected his application.
Schumer proposed that a 1968 gun control law - which was enacted in the wake of the assassinations of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy and prohibits people who have tested positive or have been arrested multiple times for drug use from owning firearms - should have stopped Loughner from buying his Glock. But the military, Schumer said, does not share its recruiting information with other federal law enforcement agencies.
"This doesn't require a legal change," Schumer said. "There is a standard in the law, regular and repeated use, which Jared Loughner admitted to."
Schumer acknowledged that any new gun control legislation will be politically difficult to enact, given Republican control of the House. He said he favors reinstatement of the 1994 assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004 and included a prohibition on high-capacity magazine clips for automatic weapons like the one used in Tucson.
"I would be supportive, of course, of going back to the way we were before ," Schumer said. "Whether we could get that passed, we'd have to see."
Schumer also said he will break tradition at next week's State of the Union address and sit not with his fellow Democrats but with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) proposed last week that senators and members of Congress integrate the seating arrangement at the annual speech.
"Sometimes symbols have a way of affecting reality," Schumer said. "We don't have to agree on everything, but let's be civil, let's try to work together where we can."