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Tag: Congress

Senior Homeland Security Official Flip-Flops on Gun Sales to People on Terrorist Watch List

gunsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A senior Homeland Security official who suggested last week that President Obama’s plan to ban firearm sales to people on the government’s terrorist watch list was misguided has taken an entirely different tone, the Washington Times reports. 

Alan Bersin seemed to undermine Obama’s proposed ban in sworn testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, saying that he didn’t think it would be appropriate to ban gun sales based on one’s presence on the terrorist watch list.

Bersin was repeating the opinions of many Republicans who feel it’s a violation of the Second Amendment to create such a ban because of the lower standards of evidence to place someone on the no-fly list.

But following the testimony, Bersin issued a statement that he agrees with President Obama and Democrats that a ban is needed because of the dangers of terrorism.

“To be clear, it is the administration’s position that Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. This is a matter of national security and common sense, and it is a position I and the department support,” Mr. Bersin said in the statement.

Some Republicans lashed out, saying Bersin was likely pressured to change his tone.

“I think he said what he meant, and his bosses weren’t happy with that answer. We’ve seen that multiple times from this administration,” Rep. Blake Farenthold, a Texas Republican, told the Washington Times.

Congressional Bills Calls for $390M to Jumpstart FBI’s New Headquarters

Current FBI Headquarters

Current FBI Headquarters

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Congressional leaders proposed a $1.1 trillion spending bill that includes $390 million to build a new FBI headquarters, the Baltimore Sun reports.

“I’m fully behind the FBI and fully behind Prince George’s County as home to the new headquarters,” said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, the top Democrat on theSenate Appropriations Committee. “With more than 40 percent of FBI employees already living in Maryland, Prince George’s is the right place and has the right stuff.”

The bill, which is aimed at preventing a government shutdown, also includes modest pay raises for federal employees.

The FBI plans to leave its aging headquarters in downtown Washington D.C. and move to a new headquarters in Maryland or Virginia.

“The Hoover building is dated and dysfunctional,” Mikulski said. “It’s sinking, leaking and flooding and doesn’t even meet the FBI’s own security requirements. It’s too small for the FBI’s needs, so workers are scattered across 14 leased offices impeding efficiency and effectiveness.”

The $390 million would pay for design and pre-construction expenses. The total cost is expected to exceed $2 billion.

Ex-ATF Agent: Let’s Stop Pretending Lawmakers Are Regulating Lethal Firearms

gunsBy Former ATF Jay Wachtel
for Washington Post

When it comes to regulating firearms, we only pretend to legislate. And even when we do legislate, we only pretend to make them safer. Think that I’m exaggerating? Read on.

In 1994, the federal assault weapons ban outlawed a host of firearms by make and model, including the popular Colt AR-15 and several “AK” style rifles. More broadly, the law also prohibited the manufacture and sale of any semi-automatic rifle that could accept a detachable ammunition magazine (for quicker reloading), and had two or more external features such as a folding stock (to make a gun more compact), pistol grips and barrel shrouds (to help steady one’s aim) and a flash suppressor (to hide a shooter’s position). Caliber wasn’t affected but magazine capacities were limited to ten rounds. Existing weapons and magazines could continue to be possessed and transferred.

How did the gun industry respond? With cosmetic fixes. Colt renamed the AR-15 the “Sporter,” stripped off its flash suppressor and bayonet lug and modified the magazine. Other manufacturers and importers took similar measures, renaming guns and making minor tweaks.

Everyone was pleased. For liberals, the law’s passage was a victory. What got lost in the orgy of self-congratulation, though, was the purpose of the ban.

One assumes that assault rifles were picked on because they are particularly lethal. Key attributes that make them so include accuracy at range, rapid-fire capability and, most importantly, fearsome ballistics. In their most common calibers – 7.62 and .223 – these weapons discharge bullets whose extreme energy and velocity readily pierce protective garments commonly worn by police, opening cavities in flesh many times the diameter of the projectile and causing devastating wounds.

None of these real threats were addressed by the ban. Yet when the statute expired ten years later, Democrats in Congress voiced outrage and promised to secure its renewal.

Last week, a young Southern California couple armed with two pistols and two .223 caliber assault rifles viciously murdered 14 people and wounded 21, some critically. All four guns were purchased from licensed gun retailers in California, the state whose assault weapons law has been touted as the nation’s most restrictive. But as the officers who responded to the massacre in patrol cars and armored vehicles can attest, their state’s vaunted measures (its supposedly stiff provisions require, for example, that magazines be fixed in place, yet provide an easy workaround) proved hopelessly ineffective.

California, the state which gun enthusiasts love to hate, seems no more anxious to take real action against highly lethal firearms than the reticent Feds.

What makes this so? For a clue we can turn to District of Columbia v. Heller,the landmark 2008 Supreme Court case that slapped down a law prohibiting the possession of handguns. In its ruling, the Court held that the Second Amendment grants individuals the right to have firearms for “traditionally lawful purposes” such as self-protection. Going beyond handguns, the majority also endorsed the concept that the Second Amendment protects the right to possess firearms “in common use.”

What’s missing from Heller is a comparison of guns at the time the Second Amendment was written and now. Had the Framers time-traveled to a contemporary gun store, they probably would have been astonished at just how lethal firearms would become. They might have even graced the Second Amendment with an additional clause that placed limits on the madness.

But they didn’t. Neither did the Heller justices, who completely ignored the stark contrast between then and now. One wishes that a law clerk looked up Section 921(a)(16) of the Gun Control Act of 1968, which exempts weapons with antique ignition systems or that do not use fixed ammunition – in other words, the guns of the Framer’s era – from the definition of “firearm.”

To read more click here. 

North Carolina Official Proposes Ban on Gun Purchases for Suspected Terrorists

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Congressional Republicans blocked an effort to prevent suspected terrorists on the federal government’s database from buying guns.

But that isn’t stopping North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper from urging state lawmakers to support a similar ban in his state, the Citizen-Times reports. 

“Stopping terror suspects from getting weapons that could harm our state and its people makes common sense,” Cooper said in a news release. “Even if Washington won’t act, we can.”

But whether Cooper has enough support is another question. Some GOP leaders accused Cooper of gun control.

State GOP Chairman Hasan Harnett accused Cooper of “stripping our citizens of their constitutional rights and denying them due process” to score points with his like-minded supporters.

San Bernardino Attack Prompts Calls for Tougher Immigration Enforcement

San Bernardino, Calif., via Wikipedia.

San Bernardino, Calif., via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The woman who opened fire at a holiday party in San Bernardino was born in Pakistan and arrived in the United States last year on a special visa, The Los Angeles Times reports. 

Tashfeen Malik became a permanent resident last year after marrying Syed Rizwan Farook, who helped kill 14 people.

The attack has prompted calls for stricter immigration enforcement and a stop on the Syrian refugee program.

“New information coming to light regarding Tashfeen Malik’s citizenship reaffirms the fact that proper screening and vetting those coming into our country, whether with a visa or as a refugee, is not always possible,” said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for stricter immigration laws.

Before voting on a bill that would fund the Syrian refugee program and other immigration initiatives, some Republicans are calling on the Obama administration to disclose the immigration histories of Malik, her husband and their families.

Homeland Security Committee Chief Calls for More Funding for FBI, DHS

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Following the Paris terror attacks, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee is calling for “an increase in funding” to protect the U.S. from a similar attack, CNSNEws.com reports. 

Asked on ABC’s “This Week” what needs to be done to protect the homeland, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, responded:

“Well, it’s — it’s very difficult and — and we don’t want these foreign fighters coming into the United States from visa waiver countries,” McCaul responded. “We’ve had, in the homeland, 18 plots stopped that were ISIS-related. We’ve arrested 70 ISIS followers. And we have 1,000 investigations in all 50 states.

“So I think one thing Congress can do is we have an appropriations bill coming up in about two weeks. And I think the FBI and components of Homeland Security will need an increase in funding to help combat this threat that we see right in our homeland.”

Reop. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said airport security remains a problem.

“We certainly have resource challenges, but we are fortunate that we don’t have anywhere near the number of foreign fighters to track that Europe does.

“At the same time, I think two areas where we can really beef up our own security, one is a continuing vulnerability at our airports. All too often when we test the TSA, they don’t meet the test, and that has to (change).”

Congressman Calls for Resignation of DEA Chief Over Marijuana Remarks

MarijuanaBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Rep. Early Blumenauer called for the resignation Wednesday of the acting DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg for saying it’s a “joke” to suggest that marijuana has medicinal benefits, the Huffington Post reports. 

“Rosenberg is clearly not the right fit for the DEA in this administration,” Blumenauer said during a speech on the House floor Wednesday morning.

Rosenberg made the comments earlier this month.

“What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal — because it’s not,” Rosenberg said. “We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don’t call it medicine — that is a joke.”

Blumenauer fired back.

“What is a joke is the job Rosenberg is doing as acting DEA administrator,” he said. “He’s an example of the inept, misinformed zealot who has mismanaged America’s failed policy of marijuana prohibition.”

He added: “Rosenberg’s claim that more research is necessary is true, but it reeks of hypocrisy because the DEA under his leadership has made badly needed cannabis research difficult, often impossible.”

Head of House Homeland Security Committee Warns of ‘Gaping Holes’ for Terrorism

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. is vulnerable to attack on the scale of the one in Paris because of “gaping holes” in security, the head of the House Homeland Security Committee warned Sunday, The Hill reports. 

“There are a lot of holes — gaping holes,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“We have hundreds of Americans that have traveled” to Iraq and Syria, he added. “Many of them have come back as well. I think that’s a direct threat.”

McCaul said he is concerned with how easily Europeans and Americans can travel to Iraq and Syria.

He also expressed concerns about terrorists slipping into the U.S. by posing as Syrian refugees.  t

“This causes a great concern on the part of policymakers, because we don’t want to be complicit with a program that could bring potential terrorists into the United States,” McCaul said.

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