House Judiciary Committee Rejects Amendments to Patriot Act to Keep Guns–Including 50 Caliber Anti-Armor Sniper Rifles–Out of the Hands of Terrorists

For Release:  Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Measures Fail Despite Growing Evidence that Terrorists, Including Al Qaeda, Buy Firearms in America

WASHINGTON–Despite increasing evidence that a variety of terrorist organizations are buying the most lethal categories of guns in the United States, the House Judiciary Committee today voted down two anti-terror gun amendments to the USA Patriot and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2005 (H.R 3199). The Committee first rejected an amendment by Representatives Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and John Conyers (D-MI) to include within the existing crime of providing material support to terrorists the transfer of firearms to persons known to be listed in the Violent Gang and Terrorist Organization File. The Committee later rejected an amendment offered by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) to include within the crime of providing material support to terrorists the transfer of a 50 caliber sniper rifle to any member of Al Qaeda.

“In rejecting these amendments, the Judiciary Committee ignored incontrovertible evidence that terrorists are easily acquiring guns–including 50 caliber anti-armor sniper rifles–in the United States,” states Violence Policy Center Legislative Director Kristen Rand. For example:

  • An operative of Al Qaeda, Essam al Ridi, bought 25 Barrett 50 caliber sniper rifles in the late 1980s in the United States and shipped them to Al Qaeda.
  • At least two Barrett 50 caliber sniper rifles were acquired in the United States by the Irish Republican Army. One was used in a fatal attack against a British soldier.
  • The Violence Policy Center obtained a copy of a six-page pamphlet titled How Can I Train Myself for Jihad which also was reported to have been found in terrorist safe houses in Kabul, Afghanistan. The pamphlet notes, “In other countries, e.g. some states of USA, South Africa, it is perfectly legal for members of the public to own certain types of firearms. If you live in such a country, obtain an assault rifle legally, preferably AK-47 or variations, learn how to use it properly and go and practice in the areas allowed for such training.”
  • The Government Accountability Office found that during the period February 3 through June 30, 2004, a total of 44 firearm-related background checks handled by the FBI and applicable state agencies resulted in valid matches with terrorist watch list records. Of this total, 35 transactions were allowed to proceed because the background checks found no prohibiting information, such as felony convictions, illegal immigrant status, or other disqualifying factors.

Adds Rand, “Congress cannot construct an effective anti-terrorism policy without addressing current gun laws that allow all manner of terrorists in America easy access to the most lethal firearms.”






The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

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