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Terrorists who want to buy guns have friends on Capitol Hill

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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was in Washington Wednesday, calling on Congress to close the so called 'terror gap' in the nation's gun laws. He told the Senate hearing that he was pleased with the response to the Times Square car bomb.

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The lone pro-gun lawmaker to engage in the fight was the fearless Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who rolled his eyes and shook his head when Lieberman got the NYPD's Kelly to agree that the purchase of a gun could suggest that a terrorist "is about to go operational."

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"I'm not so sure this is the right solution," Graham said, concerned that those on the terrorist watch list might be denied their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

"If society decides that these people are too dangerous to get on an airplane with other people, then it's probably appropriate to look very hard before you let them buy a gun," countered Bloomberg.

"But we're talking about a constitutional right here," Graham went on. He then changed the subject, pretending the discussion was about a general ban on handguns. "The NRA -- " he began, then rephrased. "Some people believe banning handguns is the right answer to the gun violence problem. I'm not in that camp."

Graham felt the need to assure the witnesses that he isn't soft on terrorism: "I am all into national security. . . . Please understand that I feel differently not because I care less about terrorism."

But Lieberman wasn't going to let him get away without a challenge. "I must say I'm troubled by your concerns about this proposal," the chairman said. "I don't see an argument that holds up."

That was particularly so because, as various participants in the hearing had pointed out, the Government Accountability Office found that people on terrorist watch lists had bought guns or explosives from U.S. dealers 1,119 times over the past six years -- largely because the federal government has no power to stop them.

"Can I take a shot at that?" Graham asked when Lieberman finished. After some laughter, he added: "Probably a bad choice of words."


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