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Ashcroft Justice Department Protects Terrorist "Gun Rights" While Putting Americans at Risk

Ashcroft's Actions Fly in Face of President Bush's September 20 Promise that "We will direct every resource at our command�every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence and every necessary weapon of war�to the disruption and to the defeat of the global terror network."

Washington, DC�Attorney General Ashcroft's Justice Department has decreed that the war on terror ends where the gun lobby's interests begin, the Violence Policy Center (VPC) stated today. The VPC's charge comes in the wake of the admission today by the Justice Department that it has reversed prior policy and banned law enforcement from checking the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) audit log to determine if potential terrorists have sought to purchase firearms.

Confirmation of this policy comes just one week after a VPC report, Firearms Training for Jihad in America, revealed the contents of a jihad training manual which urged Muslim holy warriors to exploit lax firearms laws in the U.S. to obtain military-style firearms and weapons training. The manual was located on an Internet jihad web site and was reportedly found in terrorist safehouses in Kabul, Afghanistan.

"Attorney General Ashcroft has reversed established Justice Department policy, placing the paranoid views of the gun lobby over the safety and security of all Americans," states VPC Litigation Director and Legislative Counsel Mathew Nosanchuk. Prior to joining the VPC this year, Nosanchuk�an expert on the NICS�served in the Clinton Justice Department, drafting many of the regulations regarding use of the NICS. Ashcroft was featured on the cover of the July 2001 issue of the National Rifle Association magazine America's 1st Freedom.

Adds Nosanchuk, "The Ashcroft Justice Department wants to do everything to potential terrorists except disarm them. They have been a bull in a china shop when it comes to civil liberties, stretching their authority past the breaking point: detaining suspects and witnesses, permitting eavesdropping on detainees' conversations with attorneys, and authorizing military tribunals. But the Ashcroft Justice Department walks on eggshells when it comes to the special interests of the gun lobby, reading non-existent prohibitions into the law and tying the hands of law enforcement."

 




The Violence Policy Center is a national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals. The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related death and injury.


   For Release:
   Thursday, December 6, 2001

   Contact:
   Naomi Seligman
   Violence Policy Center
   (202) 822-8200 x105