The man charged with stabbing a police officer, in what could be ruled as terrorism, tried but failed to purchase a firearm shortly before Wednesday’s attack at Bishop International Airport in Flint, Mich.

Amor Ftouhi, a Tunisian national with Canadian citizenship, tried to purchase a gun at the Gibraltar Trade Center, a massive public market with hundreds of vendors outside Detroit, according to Fox 2. Ftouhi resorted to using a large knife when he stabbed police Lieutenant Jeff Neville in neck.

The FBI confirmed that Ftouhi tried to purchase a gun inside the United States, but would not confirm where. Agents said that Ftouhi was rejected early in the process because he is not a U.S. citizen.

News that Ftouhi tried and failed to purchase a gun pushes back against concerns of a “gun show loophole.” The term refers to the sale of firearms by a private citizens who are not required to perform background checks.

Federal law requires licensed gun sellers to run background checks on potential buyers. Gun control activists argue that the perceived loophole must be closed up, while gun rights advocates argue that there isn’t a loophole and that it’s unconstitutional for the federal government to regulate the transfer of firearms between private citizens.

While some states have enacted its own statutes, no background check is required for the private sale of rifles or shotguns in Michigan. To purchase a handgun in Michigan, prospective buyers must have either a handgun purchase license or a conceal carry license, both of which require a background check.

It is unclear what Ftouhi attempted to purchase. While Ftouhi was able to purchase a large hunting knife, he was not able to obtain a firearm because he wasn’t a citizen.

The FBI said that Ftouhi crossed  into the United States legally from Canada on Friday, June 16. Government officials say he purchased a serrated “Amazon Survival Jungle” knife in Lake Champlain, New York shortly after his arrival into the states.

Ftouhi is facing 20 years in federal prison for violence at an international airport. Neville was reported to be in good condition by doctors.

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