Assembly bill would delay gun sales to suspected terrorists

SIG_Pro_by_Augustas_DidzgalvisA new bill in the Assembly is designed to prevent individuals on the Terror Watch List from purchasing a firearm in New York state. The bill (A.9433) introduced by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, is an attempt to give more time to the FBI for completing background checks on those purchasing a firearm.

Currently, there is no law in New York state that can prevent any person on the Terror Watch List from purchasing a firearm, according to the bill’s justification, and in fact, more than 2,000 guns were purchased by individuals on the Terror Watch List, the bill states.

Paulin says personnel at the National Instant Criminal Background Check System believe New York can prevent those on the watch list from buying a gun by giving them more time to access state and local records.

The legislation was referred to the Assembly Codes Committee on March 3.

“Extending the amount of time allowed for a background check … is the most effective and practical means to ensure that both legally prohibited persons and known and suspected terrorists cannot buy a firearm, rifle or shotgun in New York without impinging on the right of law-abiding individuals to do so,” Paulin said.

Under federal law, licensed gun dealers must conduct an NICS background check before the sale of any firearm, and the results — which are either to proceed with the sale or deny the sale — have to be reported back to the dealer within three business days, as the law now states.

Under Paulin’s bill, if someone purchasing a gun shows a clean background check, they would be able to purchase the gun without a delay. But if there is some concern by law enforcement, the new law would give them an additional seven business days to compile records from state and local authorities and make a decision.

Even though being on the Terror Watch List does not disqualify a person from purchasing a firearm, the FBI does in fact check the Terror Watch List when it conducts a NICS check. The belief is that someone on the Terror Watch List may be prohibited from buying a gun under some other restriction — being convicted of a felony, being considered a danger because of mental illness, or being addicted to drugs for example — and additional time would help police identify a reason to deny the sale.

“Considering the homeland security issues we face today, providing an additional seven days for the FBI to vet someone wishing to buy a gun, rifle or shotgun is just common sense,” Paulin said. “More than 2,000 guns have already been purchased by individuals on the Terror Watch List. And between 2010 and 2014, more than 15,000 gun sales went forward to individuals who should have been prohibited from buying a gun because the FBI could not determine whether to deny or proceed within three business days.”

There is no companion bill in the Senate.