Al Qaeda Video Response Way Off Target

Blog ››› ››› CHRIS BROWN

In a video released June 3, Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn, a.k.a. Azaam the American, exhorted Al Qaeda followers in the U.S. to exploit a loophole that allows them to purchase weapons at gun shows without having to pass a background check. Elsewhere in the video Gadahn encourages terrorists to carry out lone wolf and small group attacks on major institutions and public figures.

GADAHN: America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?

Amazingly, the response from many right-wing and gun focused bloggers has been to focus extensively on Gadahn's lack of awareness of the considerable regulations governing "fully automatic assault rifles" and making misleading arguments about the availability of machine gun conversion kits.

Al Qaeda has directly instructed its sympathizers to purchase weapons at gun shows without a background check to murder Americans. Under current law both terrorists and criminals can buy weapons from private sellers to avoid backgrounds checks that would otherwise block the sale.

Legal semi-automatic assault rifles for sale at gun show
from private seller. From Inside Gun Shows
By Professor Garen Wintemute of UC-Davis

The most aggressive dodge of the well known fact that there are no background checks required by any private seller at gun shows comes from the Pennsylvania gun blog Snow Flakes in Hell who focuses on the fact that Gadahn is already prohibited from buying guns.

The gun blogosphere is ablaze with this video hawked by Mayors Against Illegal Guns showing a one Adam Gadhan, a high ranking American-born Al-Quaeda operative, naively posting that machine guns can be had at US gun shows without background checks. Most people have focused on the ridiculousness of this assertion, but I think more interesting is the fact that Adam Gadhan is a prohibited person under current federal law because he's currently under indictment for treason against the United States.

Terrorists that are currently prohibited from purchasing guns can buy guns at gun shows from private sellers because the sellers don't have to run background checks. This is exactly what Gadahn is encouraging terrorists to do. Requiring background checks so that murderous criminals like Al Qaeda can't show up at gun shows and walk away with guns is an explicit goal of the Fix Gun Checks campaign.

Further doubling down on the denial Snow Flakes in Hell suggests current laws can keep legal guns out of the hands of terrorists.

So I think it's safe to say MAIG is full of crap when it's suggested that our current laws are insufficient to stave off the possibility of known terrorists getting their hands on firearms through legal channels (as opposed to black market channels, where they can get them readily -- see Mumbai).

Beyond the possibility of avoiding background checks at gun shows, people on the terrorist watch list can and have bought guns because being on the terrorist watch list doesn't prevent you from passing a background check. As noted by Rachel Maddow last night:

Last year almost 250 people on the terrorist watch list in this country legally purchased guns. They didn't sneak around or buy'em on the black market, no 247 people whose names are on the terrorist watch list bought guns in America-because that's legal!

A quick review of the facts. Legal semi automatics have been used in mass casualty shootings by criminals at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson and countless other incidents. 247 people on the terrorist watch lists legally purchased guns last year. Even a terrorist that can't legally buy guns could visit a gun show and bypass the background system simply by finding a private seller.

Al Qaeda leaders have noticed.

Posted In
Justice & Civil Liberties, Guns
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