New Guns Bill Has Support Across the Aisle

     WASHINGTON (CN) – New gun-control legislation unveiled Tuesday by a bipartisan Senate group echoes proposals to close the so-called “terror loophole” rejected just a day earlier.
     Demands for gun control have reached a fever pitch in the week since a gay nightclub in Orlando became the site of the deadliest shooting in the country.
     On Capitol Hill, the focus culminated with a 15-hour filibuster led by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., calling for legislation to close background-check loopholes and prevent people on terror watch lists from buying guns.
     While all four of the bills that came directly from that filibuster failed Monday night on roughly partisan votes, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has offered a compromise on one of the proposals that has gained some bipartisan support.
     The bill would bar gun sales to some 109,000 people, including 2,700 U.S. citizens, on the no-fly list and an additional security list called the selectee list.
     U.S. citizens and green-card holders would be able to fight the denial before an appeals court, with the burden on the government to prove the person should not be able to buy a weapon.
     The court would have 14 days to make a decision.
     In addition, the proposal would contain a “look-back” provision that would alert the FBI any time a person listed on a terrorist-screening database in the previous five years tried to buy a gun.
     “Our goal is simple and straightforward, we want to make America safer,” Collins said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon announcing the legislation.
     The proposal combines parts of two unsuccessful measures offered Monday by Sens. Dianne Feinstein and John Cornyn.
     Feinstein’s bill contained the “look-back provision,” while Cornyn’s allowed for a similar appeals process, though with a shorter turn-around for the court.
     Eight senators joined Collins in announcing the measure Tuesday, calling it the best chance to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands without restricting Second Amendment or due-process rights, common criticisms of the Feinstein and Cornyn proposals.
     “I’m sick of the shootings, I’m sick of the vigils, I’m sick of the homicide victims support groups, I’m sick of the claims that we’ll do something about it, I’m sick of the partisan rhetoric, and I’m really sick of getting to the end of all of it and not doing something about it and seeing that happen again and again and again,” Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said at the press conference.
     Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., acknowledged criticism from within his own party that the legislation would restrict Second Amendment rights, arguing it would affect a small number of people and would prevent people with bad intentions from getting guns.
     “Every right, whether it’s speech, or buying a weapon or any other constitutional right has boundaries on it,” Graham said. “We’re talking about twenty-seven, twenty-six, twenty-eight hundred people. We’re talking about a process where we can right a wrong if an innocent person finds themselves on the wrong side of government action. But I am far more concerned that the people on list would buy a gun and kill as many people as they want with it if they bought it.”
     Graham also brushed aside concerns that the proposal would amount to the government stripping a right from someone without due process, saying the public-safety benefits weigh more heavily than potentially inconveniencing a small number of people.
     “What if you buy the damn gun?” Graham said when asked about the potential issue with the proposal. “Then what do you do? So I’m balancing the likelihood of somebody on the list buying the gun and using it against somebody on the list who is innocently on it. So there is a way for you to get off the list, but there’s not a way to stop you from buying the gun unless you do what we’re doing.”
     Collins, one of the most moderate Republicans in the Senate, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told her during a meeting earlier in the day her proposal would receive a vote, possibly as early as this week.
     Senate Democrats were encouraged by the bipartisan push for gun-control legislation, though they acknowledged a few “potentially serious problems” in it that would need to be fixed.
     Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Collins’ bill does not allow the Department of Justice to stop gun sales to foreign nationals on the no fly list and worried the 14-day turnaround would be unattainable for most courts.
     He also wondered whether the Justice Department would have to turn over potentially exculpatory evidence to a person fighting the gun denial in court. Collins says her proposal would allow the court to review and protect classified information and determine how to move forward with information it deemed too sensitive for public review.
     While Schumer was concerned about these shortcomings, he said he hoped the group of senators who offered the legislation would be able to work with Democrats to ease these fears.
     “If we can work together to fix these issues with her draft as it stands now we’ll be able to take a big step forward to closing the egregious loophole,” Schumer told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
     A day after the failure of four proposals on gun control drew widespread criticism from across the country, Graham said the Collins proposal is a compromise worth passing.
     “If we can’t pass this, it truly is a broken system up here,” Graham said.

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