Violence Policy Center Statement on Today’s Vote in the U.S. Senate

For Release: Monday, June 20, 2016

Washington, DC–Today the U.S Senate defeated two proposals that would have made America safer from gun violence.

The Senate failed to pass Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) proposal to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, and it defeated Senator Chris Murphy’s (D-CT) amendment to expand background checks on gun sales.

Soon after 9/11, the Violence Policy Center obtained a copy of a terrorist training manual, How I Train Myself for Jihad.  The pamphlet was reportedly also found in abandoned terrorist safe houses in Kabul, Afghanistan.  The pamphlet informs jihad trainees, “In some countries of the World, especially the USA, firearms training is available to the general public,” and that “it is perfectly legal” to obtain weapons such as AK-47 assault rifles.  It urges would-be warriors to take advantage of those lax laws and learn firearm fighting skills, especially sniping and the use of assault rifles (

In the years since 9/11, terrorists have indeed taken advantage of America’s lax gun laws:  acquiring and using the military-style firearms–such as the Sig Sauer MCX assault rifle wielded by the shooter at Pulse nightclub–that today define the gun industry.

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), since NICS started checking against terrorist watchlist records in February 2004, FBI data show that individuals on the terrorist watchlist were involved in firearm or explosives background checks 2,477 times, of which 2,265 (about 91 percent) of the transactions were allowed to proceed and only 212 were denied.  That is because unless a terrorist is a felon or otherwise prohibited from possessing a gun, nothing in current law stops the purchaser from buying a gun.

Also under current federal law, only gun transfers made by licensed gun dealers are subject to the Brady background check.  Rejection of Senator Murphy’s amendment to expand background checks maintains this status quo, leaving a significant proportion of the gun sales that take place at gun shows, on the Internet, and through classified ads exempt from the background check requirement.

Today’s Senate votes will allow–and even encourage–terrorists and common criminals alike to continue to exploit America’s weak gun laws.




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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Georgia Seltzer
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