Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) takes questions from reporters during a news conference about Democratic legislative proposals at the U.S. Capitol Nov. 19, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Reid seeks GOP support for bill that prevents “suspected terrorists” from buying guns

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid criticized GOP lawmakers on Friday for opposing a bill that aims to preventing suspected terrorists from legally buying guns, saying that Republicans are “kowtowing” to the National Rifle Association. 

The Nevada Democrat’s remarks came days after The Washington Post reported that suspected terrorists successfully purchased more than 2,000 guns from American dealers between 2004 and 2014, even though law enforcement is notified whenever someone on the FBI’s watchlist attempts to purchase a firearm. 

Reid’s statement also came a week after the shocking terror attacks in Paris, which left at least 130 people dead and hundreds more injured.

The measure Reid referenced was first introduced in 2007, but met opposition from conservatives and gun-rights groups. 

“Shockingly, Republicans continue to preserve a loophole that allows FBI terror suspects to buy guns and explosives legally, without background checks,” Reid said in a statement. “Legislation to close the loophole has existed for years. But Republican leaders in both Houses of Congress continue to block legislation to close this terrorist loophole. By leaving this terrorist loophole open, Republicans are leaving every community in America vulnerable to attacks by terrorists armed with assault rifles and explosives purchased legally.”

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Under the “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015,” proposed by Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), people would be able to challenge a denial to purchase a firearm, if they believe they were placed on the terrorist watchlist by error. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y) also proposed a similar bill in the House. The measure is unlikely to succeed in the Republican-controlled Congress, 

Asked this week if he supports the measure, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, “I’m not familiar with the legislation. “So I’ll pass on it.”  

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chair of the Armed Services Committee, also said he haven’t heard about the bill, The Hill reported. ”I have to look at it,” he said. 

The NRA told MSNBC that the group opposes the bill. In a statement to MSNBC, NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker emphasized that the group does not oppose denying terrorists “or dangerous people” firearms. She argued that the NRA wants to ensure that Americans who are wrongly on the list are afforded their constitutional right to due process.

“It is appalling that anti-gun politicians are exploiting the Paris terrorist attacks to push their gun-control agenda and distract from President Obama’s failed foreign policy,” Baker said. 

The American Civil Liberties Union has argued that suspects on the terror list are “based on vague, overbroad, and often secret standards and evidence.” The Intercept reported that of the 680,000 people who on the FBI’s watchlist as “suspected terrorists,” more than 40% have “no recognized terrorist group affiliation.” 

Still, Reid said “In the wake of Paris, closing the loophole that allows FBI terror suspects to buy guns and explosives should be an obvious step.”