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Second Amendment Freedoms In Jeopardy After Boston Marathon Bombing

black powderBlack powder purchases will soon become limited and require a background check, if recently introduced legislation is approved. Democratic New Jersey U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg is currently pushing a black powder, smokeless powder, and black powder substitute bill through Congress. The legislation has been dubbed the Explosive Materials Background Check Act.

Senator Lautenberg stated, “It defies common-sense that anyone, even a terrorist, can walk into a store in America and buy explosive powders without a background check or any questions asked.  Requiring a background check for an explosives permit is a small price to pay to ensure the safety of our communities.  The NRA is hard at work putting the financial interests of weapons dealers and manufacturers over the public safety of our families and I applaud the Violence Policy Center for exposing the gun lobby’s back room deals.”

Existing federal laws reportedly permit the purchase of up to fifty pounds of black powder without a background check. The amount of smokeless powder and black powder substitute a citizen can purchase is currently unlimited. Senator Lautenberg attempted previously to get legislation passed in 2003 that would restrict these numbers, but the bill failed. However, the Boston Marathon bombings prompted renewed interest in the black powder debate – as many watching the acts of terror unfold felt that it would.

In addition to limiting the quantity of black powder that one can buy, the Explosives Materials Background Check Act would also give the Attorney General the power to thwart the sale of black powder when the official “reasonably believes” the material could be used as an explosive in a terroristic act. If federal agencies were such stellar sleuths with crystal ball reading abilities, the Tsarnaev brothers would not have been able to cause the carnage they did in Boston.

In theory, the law would also require John and Jane Q. Public to undergo a background check to purchase even a few Roman candles and bottle rockets for a Fourth of July celebration. The Tsarnaev brothers reportedly spent about $200 at a fireworks store before the Boston bombings; however, the Phantom Fireworks manager was quick to note that the harvested powder from the items purchased would not have been powerful enough on their own to create the explosions shown repeatedly on television.

In reality, the background checks suggested for black powder purchases would do no more to curtail crime than the proposed ammo limits in Florida or any of the other recently uttered gun control suggestions. The younger Tsarnaev brother would have passed a background check, and perhaps the elder bombing suspect would have as well. It’s worth noting the number of items commonly found outside the gun store that can be weaponized. Let’s be honest—if someone really wants to make a bomb, they will find a way. Even if black powder purchases become highly regulated, all a terrorist or any run-of-the-mill criminal has to do is spend a little bit of time watching online videos to learn how to make their own. Unless the reactionary members of Congress want to initiate background checks and waiting periods every product sold in American, bombs can still be crafted on any kitchen counter in America. Limits put on black powder purchases would once again only hamper law-abiding American citizens. Instead of making more new laws, perhaps we should be focusing on enforcing legislation and policies already in place. Fixing the problems within the federal system that potentially allowed the Boston Marathon bombings and the death of a MIT police officer to take place should be the immediate focus of all members of Congress – not restricting black powder purchases. If Senator Lautenberg’s bill passes, it would also be illegal to make homemade explosives without a permit. Fear of breaking the law and paying a fine for neglecting to secure a permit will surely discourage a terrorist from making pipe bombs or pressure cooker explosive devices.

Explosives Materials and Background Check Act supporters could better use their time delving deeper into the actions of the federal agencies tasked with tracking potential terrorists and how the Tsarnaev brothers funded their acts of terror.

The FBI was warned by Russia that the elder suspected bomber may have ties to radical Islam and associated terrorism groups. Janet Napolitano stated in front of Congress earlier this week that a “ping” alerted her Homeland Security team when Tsarnaev flew to Russia, but that his case was closed before he returned, and therefore he was off the government’s radar.

The FBI reportedly told Congress that they were unaware of the departure or return of the suspected terrorist because his name had been misspelled on some official form. A National Intelligence Director was appointed after the 9/11 terror attacks to prevent such a lack of communication between federal agencies and increase tracking of potential terrorists.

Black powder sales in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings have increased substantially, just like guns and ammo purchases spiked to record levels after the Newtown shooting. The blame and repercussions from the Boston bombings should be heaped squarely upon the shoulders of the suspects and federal officials who dropped the ball after the warning from Russia. Law abiding Americans who enjoy fireworks during a holiday picnic or making their own ammunition are not, and have never been, a part of the national security problem.

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