Alleged Fort Hood Shooter Bought Gun, Despite Ongoing Terrorism Investigation

The FBI unit responsible for background checks on gun purchases does provide leads to the FBI about some high priority terrorism suspects; but that watch list is not inclusive of everyone the government may have concerns about.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, at a June 4, 2009, Senate appropriations hearing, said on the issue, "We are notified when there is a -- appears to be a purchase of somebody who is affiliated with a terrorist group. But that is different than barring that individual from the outset from purchasing a weapon. But again, I have to defer to the Department of Justice in terms of the policy position that it is going to take on that issue."

In a statement, NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said, "It isn't surprising that, while the investigation is still ongoing and before all the facts are known, Sen. Lautenberg and the gun control lobby have rushed to exploit this sorrowful event."

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NRA: Focus Should Be on Watch List and Process

Under the Brady Law, legal firearms purchases are checked with the FBI's National Instant Background Check System, which runs record checks through the FBI's National Crime Information Center. Part of the NCIC database checks the FBI's Violent Gang and Terrorist Organization File for individuals with gang or terrorism records.

According to a Feb. 13, 2007, Justice Department letter to Lautenberg, "The NICS had made changes in 2004 to its procedures so that counterterrorism agents were consulted about a person listed in the VGTOF seeking to buy a gun, to determine whether those agents have prohibiting information about the individual that is not yet contained in the automated databases."

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Arulanandam said, "The focus, rightfully, should be on the integrity of the watch list and the process as a whole."
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