Gowdy: List of Visa Overstays Should Be Sent to Firearms Dealers

By Susan Jones | December 18, 2015 | 9:25am EST
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Never mind the secret and mysterious government watchlists: The government could and should be sending its list of people who overstay their visas to federally licensed firearms dealers, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) told two Obama administration officials on Thursday.

Speaking at a hearing on foreign travelers and national security, Gowdy said three groups of people currently are barred by law from purchasing or possessing a firearms, including people in the country without permission; people who overstay their visas; and even, in most cases, people who are here on a valid visa.

"Are those lists made available to federally licensed firearms dealers so they can make sure they don't sell firearms to those three categories of prohibited people?" Gowdy asked Leon Rodriguez, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and John Bersin, assistant secretary of Homeland Security.

"Mr. Gowdy, I'm just not familiar with the ATF process with regard to that," Bersin replied. "I don't believe that DHS circulates those lists," he added.

"Well, this is the frustration that I face, is that I listen to an administration call for additional gun laws," Gowdy said. "They want additional gun control in the wake of almost every tragedy. That's the very first place they run. And it just forces me to ask, well, I wonder how we're doing with the current gun laws that we have?"

Gowdy encouraged both Bersin and Rodriguez "to go back and look at the statistics coming out of the Department of Justice on how many prosecutions exist for current gun law violations in all those three categories.

"And if we're going to create a list with, by the way, no due process, called a watchlist -- then at a minimum you ought to give the list of visa overstays to federally licensed firearms dealers, because that list already exists.

"We already know who's on that list, so your due process rights have already been afforded to you. So if there's going to be a list given to FFLs, I would think it ought to be the visa overstay list before it would be some list conjured up by-- by folks that we're not familiar with."

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