Sen. Nelson files bill to notify FBI when terror suspects buy guns

- In the wake of the Orlando terror attack, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson announced Wednesday that he is filing a bill that would allow the FBI to be notified when a person with possible ties to terrorism purchases a gun.

Nelson, who is a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and former member of the Intelligence Committee, wants any individual who is, or has been investigated for possible ties to terrorism to be entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, which gun shop owners use to run background checks on prospective gun buyers.

If a background check is conducted for a prospective gun buyer who is, or has been investigated for potential ties to terrorism, Nelson's bill would require that the NICS system automatically notify the appropriate division of the FBI.

The proposed bill comes after reports that the FBI interviewed the gunman responsible for Sunday's massacre at a gay nightclub at least three times prior to the shooting. 

According to the FBI, the gunman, Omar Mateen, was placed on a terrorism watch list from 2013 until 2014. But FBI Director James Comey said, "once an investigation is closed there is then no notification of any sort that is triggered by that person then attempting to purchase a firearm when the cases were closed as inconclusive." 

Nelson's bill would not automatically bar someone previously investigated for possible ties to terrorism from purchasing a firearm. It would, however, require that such individuals be entered into the NICS system and that the FBI be notified if any of those individuals attempt to purchase a firearm.

In addition to the legislation filed Wednesday, which will now head to the Senate's Judiciary Committee for consideration, Nelson cosponsored a broader measure that would, among other things, prohibit known or suspected terrorists on government watch lists, such as the No-Fly list, from purchasing a firearm.

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