Comey: Denying gun sales to those on watch lists could blow FBI terror investigations

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Thursday June 16th, 2016

And by the way, Obama's lying. The FBI is alerted every time someone on the watch list tries to buy a gun, and can often stop the purchase.

Democrats and the media would have you believe that when someone on the FBI's terror watch list tries to buy a gun, law enforcement officials are helpless and impotent. The suspected terrorist just walks out of the gun shop with his "assault rifle" and no one knows or can lift a finger in response to it.

In testimony before the Senate on Wednesday, FBI director James Comey explains that this is far from the truth:

“Last week, our president stated that there are individuals who can’t get on planes, but they can go to a gun shop and buy a firearm there and he said ‘nothing we can do to stop them,’ but – and correct me if I’m wrong - the FBI is notified when someone on the terrorist watch list attempts to purchase a firearm, and a NICS [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] check is requested, and the FBI has multiple avenues that they can pursue,” Grassley said at the committee’s hearing on the oversight of the FBI.

“These are some of these avenues: delay the firearms transaction, and if the person is actually a terrorist, the FBI can arrest them for any crime for which there is probable cause, and in addition, the FBI can intervene and directly confront the individual. The FBI can also put the suspect on what’s called around-the-clock surveillance. My question: Aren’t these some of the tools available to the FBI to stop a suspected terrorist from buying a gun?” Grassley asked.

“Mr. Chairman, you’re right,” said Comey. “There are a variety of things that we do when we are notified that someone on our known or suspected terrorist database is attempting to buy a firearm.

“The FBI is alerted when that is triggered, and then we do investigation, understand, are there disqualifiers that we’re aware of that could stop the transactions, and if the transaction goes through, the agents who are assigned to that case, to that subject are alerted to it so they can investigate,” Comey added.

“Thank you very much for that clarification,” said Grassley. “So there are then actually many things that can be done, done right now to stop one, someone on the no-fly list from buying a gun, and that leads me to say that our president is misrepresenting the facts and misleading the American people on that point.”

Comey also expressed another concern about the idea - being pushed very hard by Hillary Clinton - that anyone on the watch list should be automatically denied their Second Amendment rights. In some cases, Comey said, the FBI would prefer that the subject not be aware he or she is under investigation, and denying the gun purchase on the spot would have the potential to blow said investigation.

Obviously that's a judgment call that would have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis, but it's a perfect example of why you don't let politicians make such all-encompassing rules for law enforcement based on the emotion of the moment, especially in the aftermath of a horrible crime that sees people clamoring for the government to do something, even though many of those clamoring don't really have a solid understanding of what should be done, or of what's already being done.

And Grassley is right that Obama is just flat-out lying to the American public about this. As Comey explains, the FBI can take a variety of actions when it's alerted about an attempted gun purchase, and in many cases the purchase can be stopped. But that involves both due process and the need for judgment to be exercised about whether such an action is wise given the parameters of a larger investigation that might need to be protected.

Would Obama and Hillary really want to jeopardize terror investigations in order to advance their gun control agenda? Actually I don't really think that's such a hard question, do you?

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