Press Releases

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today announced leading chiefs of police from across the country support legislation to prevent known or suspected terrorists from buying firearms or explosives.

Under current law, there are nine categories of prohibited purchasers under the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Feinstein’s legislation would add a 10th: those determined by the attorney general to be known or suspected terrorists who may use a weapon in connection with terrorism.

“Local law enforcement officers are the first to respond in the event of a terrorist attack. In fact, law enforcement and military personnel are often targeted by terrorist suspects. Law enforcement personnel know full well the dire threat posed by known and suspected terrorists with easy access to weapons,” said Senator Feinstein. “The fact that we cannot stop individuals on terrorist watch lists from purchasing guns and explosives in the United States makes it harder for our country’s law enforcement officers to do their jobs to keep us safe.”

Chiefs of police in support of the bill include:

  • William Bratton, New York Police Department
  • Charlie Beck, Los Angeles Police Department
  • Cathy Lanier, Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia
  • Charles Ramsey, Philadelphia Police Department
  • Greg Suhr, San Francisco Police Department
  • Shelley Zimmerman, San Diego Police Department
  • Art Acevedo, Austin Police Department
  • Ray Kelly, former commissioner, New York Police Department
  • Ed Davis, former commissioner, Boston Police Department

Chief Bratton: “The purpose of the police is to prevent crime and disorder, and, in today’s world, terrorism. As Police Commissioner of the City of New York, a place terrorists have struck before and a place they wish to strike again, I and the New York City Police Department do everything in our power to keep the city—and, by extension, the nation—safe. New York City’s residents, workers, and visitors deserve no less. It is my fervent belief, however, that public safety is a shared responsibility. Accordingly, I urge that Congress approve the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act.”

Chief Beck: “I fully support the Senate's efforts to keep firearms and explosives out of the hands of terrorists. Recent events in Paris and San Bernardino, California, underscore the importance of this critical legislation.”

Commissioner Ramsey: “I stand with law enforcement officials in support of this legislation to bar purchase of guns by terrorists. This is a critical step to close a dangerous loophole in the current federal system. We are grateful to Senator Feinstein for her leadership on this issue.”

Chief Suhr: “This needed legislation corrects a flaw in the current background check system. We must do everything to stop terrorists from buying guns and we commend Senator Feinstein for her efforts to get this bill passed.”

Chief Zimmerman: “I strongly support this long overdue legislation to deny firearms to potential terrorists. The purpose of the current system is to stop guns from getting into the wrong hands and Senator Feinstein should be commended for this needed measure.”

Chief Acevedo: “The current federal system to check backgrounds must be strengthened and this measure is an important step to close a loophole which allows terrorists to buy guns. We must support this legislation and get it passed to stop guns from getting into the wrong hands.”

Former Commissioner Kelly: “Recent terror attacks in Paris, Mali, Beirut and the Sinai remind us that we need to remain vigilant. While an armed terror attack on American soil is a very real concern, legal loopholes exist that allow individuals on our terror watch list to purchase weapons and munitions. We need to close the terror gap and help law enforcement prevent terrorists from accessing firearms. It is common sense to close those loopholes and help secure and protect our country. I strongly support the critical legislation sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Peter King prohibiting those on our do not fly terror watch lists from purchasing firearms and explosives.”

Former Commissioner Davis: “I strongly support the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act. It is a well-reasoned, common sense approach to a critical, global issue we face as a nation every day. The legislation provides an important tool in our efforts to defeat terrorism by permitting the Attorney General to deny ‘transfer of firearms to the issuance of firearms and explosives licenses to known or suspected dangerous terrorists.’”

The Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act would:

  • Allow the attorney general to deny the purchase or transfer of a firearm or explosive to a known or suspected terrorist if the prospective recipient may use the firearm or explosive in connection with terrorism.
  • Maintain protections in current law that allow a person who believes he has been mistakenly prevented from buying a firearm to learn of the reason for the denial, and then to challenge the denial, first administratively with the Department of Justice, and then through a lawsuit against the Justice Department.
  • Allow the Justice Department, in any administrative or court proceeding challenging the accuracy of a denied firearm or explosive transfer under the bill, to protect information that, if disclosed, would compromise national security.