In the United States, you can buy semi-automatic weapon without submitting yourself to a background check, so long as you make your purchase at a gun show. Roughly 90 percent of Americans object to this policy. But the National Rifle Association (NRA) — and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) — like it a lot.
The NRA likes the “gun-show loophole” because the organization is funded by firearms manufacturers who would like to continue making money selling weapons to criminals. (A large majority of the NRA’s members support universal background checks, even as the organization does everything in its power to prevent their enactment.)
It isn’t too hard to guess why ISIS also approves of America’s lax gun regulations. But there’s no need for guessing.
“They say the Americans are dumb — they have open gun policies,” an ISIS recruit told the New York Times last year. “They say we can radicalize them easily, and if they have no prior record, they can buy guns, so we don’t need to have a contact man who has to provide guns for them.”
“The acquisition of firearms can be very simple depending on one’s geographical location,” the essay reads. “In most U.S. states, anything from a single-shot shotgun all the way up to a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle can be purchased at showrooms or through online sales — by way of private dealers — with no background checks, and without requiring either an ID or a gun license.”
“With approximately 5,000 gun shows taking place annually within the United States,” it continues, “the acquisition of firearms becomes a very easy matter.”
ISIS is far from the first terror group to extol the virtues of the “gun-show loophole.” The so-called Islamic State and Al Qaeda have had their differences. But they both agree that the NRA’s preferred policies make life a lot easier for terrorists.
“America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms,” an Al Qaeda spokesman told fellow militants in a video obtained by CNN in 2013. “You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?”
Americans have long associated terrorism with explosives, rather than firearms. But as the latter have become evermore abundant and lethal, terrorists have gravitated toward them. The article in ISIS’s magazine implores its readers to take and kill hostages in the name of the Islamic State — and describes guns as the perfect tool for such an activity, citing the assault on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last summer as a model worth emulating.
Last November, a North Carolina man pleaded guilty to plotting a mass shooting in ISIS’s name. He had planned to purchase his weapon at a gun show.