A coalition of U.S. mayors launched a television ad Tuesday entreating Congress to shore up loopholes in U.S. gun control laws, which they argue allow "terrorists and other criminals to easily buy firearms and explosives."
Founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the group, called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, consists of more than 600 mayors from across the country and aims to "stop criminals from getting guns while also protecting the rights of citizens to freely own them," according to its website.
Part of that mission, the group says, involves closing regulatory loopholes that have been routinely exploited by criminals - and terrorists - to obtain firearms.
The new ad calls on Congress to address the "terror gap" that, as the 30-second spot's narrator intones, "let[s] terrorists buy guns."
Featuring a clip from an al Qaeda propaganda video, in which American-born terrorist Azzam al-Amriki touts the ease with which "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," Mayors Against Illegal Guns urges Americans to call their representatives in Congress to support stronger regulations.
"Criminals already know how to take advantage of gaps in our gun laws, and now Al Qaeda knows, too," said Bloomberg in a statement. "Americans, including NRA members, overwhelmingly support stronger laws to keep guns away from terrorists and other dangerous people. You are checked against the terror watch list to board an airplane, but you don't have to be checked when buying assault weapons. Weak gun laws aren't just a crime problem, they're a national security threat - and this ad should be a wake-up call to Congress."
The group cites 2011 data from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showing more than 1,000 instances since 2004 in which terror suspects were able to purchase guns or explosives.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., earlier this year introduced to the Senate the "Fix Gun Checks Act," which would "ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the national instant criminal background check system and require a background check for every firearm sale." The bill was referred to Committee on the Judiciary but has yet to see further movement since March.
In May, however, House Republicans shot down a similar proposal, which would have prevented people on the FBI's terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms.
"It shows how extreme the National Rifle Association's control over Congress really is," said the measure's sponsor Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., of the defeat.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns is hoping its new campaign will up the pressure on Congress to take action on the issue.
"Whether it's an illegal gun in the hands of a career criminal or an assault rifle in the hands of a terrorist, mayors and law enforcement take these threats seriously," Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said in a statement. "We hope this ad campaign will focus public attention right where it belongs: on a Congress that continues to be asleep at the switch on a critical national security issue."
Watch the ad below.