The Senate is expected to vote again this week on a proposed law to put suspected terrorists already on the Justice Department’s no-fly list into a background database that vets buyers of guns and explosives online or at gun shows.
The bill, Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act, was rejected shortly before the San Bernardino, California, health center shooting by five Senate votes, said Sen. Chuck Schumer, who vowed Sunday to reintroduce the bill this week in light of the recent FBI confirmation that the health center shooters were motivated by Muslim extremism.
The shooters, who died a few hours after the attack during a gunfight with police officers, were not known by law enforcement officials as terrorists, and were not on the nation’s no-fly list that prohibits suspected terrorists from boarding a plane. But Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he believes the bill will garner support in the Senate and Congress in light of new security concerns about lone-wolf terrorists radicalized by Muslim extremists.
“I don’t care if you are a liberal or a gun owner, 95 percent of Americans support this bill,” said Schumer at a news conference where he explained that the bill will allow the names of suspected terrorists who are on the no-fly list to be included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Currently, the names of suspected terrorists are not included in the system. According to the bill, if a potential buyer’s name pops up, the gun or explosive sale would be denied. A person believed to be wrongly put on the list can appeal the accuracy of the information in court.
Schumer’s remarks came at a Sunday morning news conference at Manhattan’s Bryant Park Skating Rink, where crowds of families sipped hot chocolate and shoppers meandered through Christmas novelty stores.
“Why would a group in Congress not want to protect the people behind me?” asked the senior senator, flanked by a handful of anti-terrorism NYPD police officers armed with assault machine guns. “We are in a new world . . .”
The officers, also wearing armored helmets, were part of the department’s Hercules unit, the city’s counterterrorism force. It combines intelligence and specially trained police officers whose job is to take down terrorist gunmen such as the shooters in San Bernardino.
Speaking in support of the bill on behalf of Police Commissioner William Bratton was Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller. He said the city needs federal laws to keep assault guns and explosives out of the hands of terrorists to ensure the effectiveness and safety of the NYPD.
Miller said Hercules is trained in “active shooter tactics . . . a roving presence that gives a sense of the unpredictable. You’ll never know that we are there.”