Why aren't the feds taking away the insurrectionists' guns?
Supporters of President Donald Trump protest on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. - Yuri Gripas/Yuri Gripas/TNS

The government has allowed most of the rioters who illegally entered the U.S. Capitol to keep their firearms, even though some of the most unapologetic insurrectionists have made clear they intend to use them in another attack.

More than half of the Donald Trump supporters arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 attack have not been indicted on charges serious enough to prevent them from owning guns, even though many of them have bragged on podcasts or media interviews that they would use them next time, reported The Daily Beast.

“I absolutely think it’s a missed opportunity," said former gun industry executive Ryan Busse. "These people have proven that they will take actions against the very democracy itself -- why would you want them armed?”

Busse, who warns about growing right-wing violence in his book Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry That Radicalized America, said the criminal justice system has a clear chance to disarm dangerous individuals who've already taken violent action against the government.

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“I hear all the time: ‘Enforce the laws we have on the books. We don’t want bad guys to get guns,'" Busse said. "Why not do this here? All the people who did this are obviously unstable, borderline treasonous individuals."

At least some of the rioters carried firearms on Jan. 6, 2021, although only seven have faced charges for that, and indictments show Oath Keepers members built a massive stockpile of weapons and ammunition at Virginia motel, but law enforcement officials are growing concerned that currently jailed insurrectionists will put weapons to use in a future attack.

Federal charges could use felony charges to disarm some of the insurrectionists, because it's illegal for convicted felons to own guns, but more than half the 720 defendants have been hit with only misdemeanors, and that number could grow as they are convicted or plead out to lesser offenses.

“It is difficult to imagine they could have brought felony obstruction charges against all 700 individuals, including a significant group of them who just trespassed into the Capitol, took some photos, then left," said Jonathan Lewis, a research fellow at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism. "It’s serious conduct, but it does speak to the challenge the DOJ is facing."

Lewis said the District of Columbia’s tight restrictions against firearms greatly reduced the threat of violence on Jan.6, and police made the strategic decision not to use their guns, but he said that likely wouldn't be the case if right-wing extremists engage in similar actions elsewhere.

“If anything, we’re learning that in 2022 and 2024, as we see groups like the Proud Boys and broad, nebulous ‘stop-the-steal’ anti-authority conspiracy movement embed itself at the state and local level, you’re seeing the potential for individuals to mobilize armed in state capitols and election offices where there are far more lax firearms laws,” Lewis said.