In February 2004, then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales directed the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legal Policy (OLP) to form a working group to review federal firearms and explosives laws*particularly in regard to NICS background checks*to determine whether additional authority should be sought from Congress to prevent firearms and explosives transfers to known and suspected terrorists. In the 111th Congress, Senator Frank Lautenberg and Representative Peter King have reintroduced a bill (S. 1317/H.R. 2159) that would authorize the Attorney General to deny the transfer of firearms or the issuance of firearms and explosives licenses to known or suspected terrorists. This bill reportedly reflects a legislative proposal developed by DOJ.
In general, this bill would amend the Gun Control Act (GCA) to grant the Attorney General the discretionary authority to deny a firearm transfer or state-issued firearms permit to any prospective transferee or permittee through Brady background checks, if the Attorney General determines that the prospective transferee is known (or appropriately suspected) to be or to have been engaged in conduct constituting, preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism, or providing material support or resources for terrorism, and has a reasonable belief that the prospective transferee may use the firearm in connection with terrorism (proposed 18 U.S.C. §§ 922A and B). The bill would make similar amendments to the provisions of the GCA governing the processes by which federal firearms dealer licenses are issued and revoked (18 U.S.C. §§ 923(d) and (e)).