Anti-Gun Group Lashes Out at Ashcroft
(CNSNews.com) - The Brady Campaign to Prevent Handgun Violence, one of the nation's largest anti-gun groups, is blasting Attorney General John Ashcroft for refusing to allow the FBI to use gun-sale background check records in the bureau's investigation of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
After Monday, law enforcement officials will not be able to check those records to determine whether any of the suspected terrorists bought firearms before the attack, gun control advocates complain.
The Brady Campaign, in press release dated Dec. 10, noted that Monday marks the 90th day after the deadly attacks. "And background check records on gun sales are destroyed after 90 days," the statement said.
Michael Barnes, president of the Brady Campaign, believes Ashcroft should have granted the FBI's request to examine the background-check records. He believes Ashcroft's refusal will have long-lasting implications on law enforcement.
"We should be using every means at our disposal to find those who might be plotting against the United States," said Barnes. "Mr. Ashcroft is so blinded by extremist ideology and loyalty to the gun lobby that he places protecting their agenda above winning the war on terrorism."
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a strong proponent of gun control, introduced legislation to ensure that all law enforcement agencies may use gun background check records in terrorism investigations.
Last week, Ashcroft told the Senate Judiciary Committee that existing law does not allow the FBI to compare the names of suspected terrorists with federal gun purchase records.
Ashcroft also said the law does not allow investigators to review the federal records created when a buyer applies to buy a firearm. "The Department of Justice is committed to following the law," he said.
One senator asked Ashcroft if he wanted the FBI to have the power to review gun records in its terror investigation. Ashcroft said he would not comment on "a hypothetical" but would be "happy to consider" any such legislation that would enable the FBI to do so.
See Earlier Story:
Ashcroft Criticized for Obeying Background Check Law (7 Dec. 2001)