Senators Roll out Bipartisan Gun Proposal
On Tuesday, various senators rolled out a bipartisan bill aimed at stopping terrorists from purchasing guns.
“Essentially we believe that if you are too dangerous to fly on an airplane, you are too dangerous to buy a gun,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told reporters.
The Hill reports:
The legislation would allow the attorney general to block the sale of a gun if an individual is on the “no-fly” list or the so-called “selectee” list, which requires additional screening at an airport.
Collins said the two lists affect approximately 109,000 people, most of whom are foreigners.
The legislation would allow the decision to be appealed. If an appeal is successful, Collins said Americans and green card holders could get their attorney fees covered.
The measure also includes a “look back” provision that would notify the FBI when someone who was on the broader terror watchlist in the past five years buys a gun.
In addition to Collins, Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) appeared at Tuesday’s press conference.
Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine (Va.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine), who caucuses with Democrats, also appeared in support of the bill.
The legislation is expected to get a vote, but Collins will need 60 supporters for the provision to through the Senate. Democrats say about 20 GOP senators would need to back the bill to get it past the threshold.
Collins said a vote on the bill could happen this week or next week, depending on the floor schedule.
Heitkamp said they still needed to gauge support among the Democratic caucus, but that she believes Democratic senators “are ready to get something done. They’re ready to move the ball forward.”
Kaine urged Democrats to support it, arguing it would allow them to keep pushing for stronger background check laws.
“I’m sick of the shootings. I’m sick of the vigils. … I’m sick of the claims that we’ll do something about it. I’m sick of the partisan rhetoric,” he told reporters.
But senators in both parties have largely stayed on the fence about Collins’s proposal.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said “the due process issues matter so much to people,” noting that the legislation was still evolving early Tuesday afternoon.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), one of three Democrats who voted against a broad background check measure Monday, said “absolutely I’m interested in it,” adding he still needed to read it.
The White House isn’t onboard will the Collins bill yet, either. Press secretary Josh Earnest on Tuesday said administration attorneys were looking at the proposal, but it’s “too early to say at this point” whether President Obama will support it.
Earnest said the administration would support the bill if it “would help our law enforcement officials” and “enhance national security,” but he expressed disappointment that the measure would only “prevent some people” suspected of terrorist ties from purchasing firearms.
Collins’ proposal comes after the Senate on Monday evening rejected — largely along party lines — two proposals aimed at blocking suspected terrorists from buying a gun. They also voted down two gun-control measures.
Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pointed fingers Tuesday morning about who was to blame for Congress’ inaction.
Reid said Republicans let their actions “be dictated by the National Rifle Association.”
“Here’s a little secret for my Republican colleagues. The NRA doesn’t care about you. It doesn’t care about your constituents. It doesn’t care about the constitutional rights of the followers,” he added.
McConnell blamed the stalemate on Democrats, calling Cornyn’s amendment a “serious proposal … and Democrats voted against it.”
Feinstein’s proposal would have allowed the attorney general to block the sale of a gun if there was a “reasonable suspicion” a person had been or would be involved with a terrorist attack.
Cornyn’s amendment would have allowed the attorney general to temporarily block the buying of a gun as a court decided whether the sale should be permanently blocked.
Democrats have focused on gun issues ahead of the November election, accusing Republicans of putting loyalty to the NRA ahead of stopping acts of terrorism.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) — who waged a 15-hour filibuster last week — called Collins’ legislation “encouraging” but added that the “devil is in the details.”
“I’ve talked with everyone in Democratic leadership, I think it’s clear that if we can get a compromise that is going to materially increase public safety and keep terrorists from getting guns we’re going to vote for it,” he added.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) praised Collins for making a “valiant effort,” but said while an outline of the bill “seems to be a step in the right direction,” it also has “fixable problems.”
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