FAIRFIELD, Conn. – U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty introduced legislation Thursday to require that the FBI be notified when individuals formerly under a terrorism investigation purchase firearms or explosives.
Esty represents much of northwestern Connecticut, including Danbury, Bethel, Newtown, Brookfield, New Fairfield and Sherman.
She introduced the legislation along with Rep. Mike Thompson of California, and Reps. Patrick Murphy, Gwen Graham and Alan Grayson, all of Florida,
Currently, not only can individuals on the FBI’s Terrorists Watchlist pass a background check and legally purchase guns, but the FBI is not notified when individuals formerly under investigation for ties to terrorism purchase firearms or explosives. Esty previously has sponsored bipartisan legislation to prohibit those on the FBI’s Terrorists Watchlist from purchasing firearms. On Wednesday, she attempted to force a vote on that bill in the House.
“Congress’s continuing silence in the face of modern terror threats is completely unacceptable,” said Esty. “Passing (this bill) is a commonsense step forward we should immediately take to help our law enforcement agencies identify and thwart potential terrorists before they can carry out their plans.”
The latest bill specifically requires that any individual who is, or who has been, under a terrorism investigation be entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). NICS is the national database used to determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to purchase a firearm. The bill would further require that the NICS system automatically notify the FBI should a background check be conducted for such an individual.
Omar Mateen, the gunman responsible for the massacre in Orlando, had been removed from the FBI’s Terrorists Watchlist before he legally purchased the two firearms he used in the attack.
“In the wake of the horrific terrorist attack against the LGBT community in Orlando, Floridians from across our state are demanding change. There is no one answer to solve the problem of gun violence in America – but that doesn’t mean Congress shouldn’t try to make our streets safer, to save lives, to prevent another tragedy like the Pulse shooting,” said Graham.
Esty's bill has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary for further consideration.