ABC News' Matthew Jaffe reports:
In the aftermath of the Tucson tragedy, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday that the military should inform the FBI's national database when they reject someone for drug abuse, a move that he believes would have prevented Jared Loughner from buying a gun.
In a letter to the Obama administration, Schumer said the military should notify the FBI when someone is rejected for illegal drug use, something that the military is not currently required to do.
“Had this reporting requirement been in place, Loughner would likely have been prevented from purchasing a firearm. We should fix this reporting loophole so that future tragedies can be prevented,” Schumer wrote in his letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson.
In an appearance this morning on NBC's "Meet the Press," Schumer talked about his letter and said he will sit with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., at the upcoming State of the Union, heeding the call of Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., for lawmakers from both parties to sit together at the address. Schumer and Coburn join a growing group of lawmakers making the bipartisan gesture – others include Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.
Schumer's full letter to the administration is below:
January 16, 2011
Eric H. Holder, Jr.
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Kenneth E. Melson
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
99 New York Ave, NE Mail Stop 5.S-144
Washington, DC 20226
Dear Attorney General Holder and Director Melson:
I write today regarding the tragic events which took place this past Saturday in Tucson, Arizona. I believe that this senseless and savage attack requires a reexamination of whom we allow to purchase firearms.
As you know, current federal law explicitly prohibits the sale or transfer of a firearm to “an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” (18 USC 922(d)(3)). It has been widely reported that the alleged shooter, Jared L. Loughner, was known to be a regular user of illicit drugs. Indeed, in news reports earlier this week, Army officials confirmed that the gunman was prevented from enlisting in the military because he admitted to using marijuana excessively in his interview with a recruiter. Just as this admission barred his entrance to the military, it should also have disqualified him from purchasing a firearm.
I therefore urge you to examine the issued regulations regarding the legal definition of a drug abuser, and clarify them to include situations in which individuals make an admission of illicit drug use to agents of the federal government, such as military recruiters. In addition, we urge the administration to order military recruiters and other agents of the federal government to report such admissions to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in the future.
Had this reporting requirement been in place, Loughner would likely have been prevented from purchasing a firearm. We should fix this reporting loophole so that future tragedies can be prevented.
Thank you for your prompt consideration and attention to this important matter. I look forward to your response.
Charles E. Schumer