- The Washington Times - Monday, November 23, 2015

The White House said Monday that Republicans concerned about Syrian refugees waging terrorist attacks in the U.S. should focus their energy instead on banning guns sales to people on the government’s terrorist watch list.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said lawmakers’ failure to stop suspected terrorists from purchasing guns in the U.S. “is a pretty clear indication that Republicans in Congress are more interested in playing politics, and more scared of the NRA, than they are concerned about doing the right thing for our national security.”

A study by the Government Accountability Office in March found that people on the FBI’s consolidated Terrorist Watchlist successfully passed the background check required to purchase firearms more than 90 percent of the time, with more than 2,043 approvals between 2004 and 2014.

Speaker Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, hasn’t said whether he favors legislation that would prevent people on the watchlist from purchasing firearms.

Mr. Earnest said a move in Congress to block the president’s plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. “is not likely to do much to improve the national security of the United States.” He said people applying for entry to the U.S. “will be subjected to a process of spending two years convincing national security officials that they don’t have links to terrorism.”

But he said it’s “particularly ironic” that Congress won’t pass a law to prevent people who already are suspected of links to terrorism from buying guns.

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