This New Bill Could Stop People On The Terrorist Watch List From Getting Guns
Just 10 days before the Orlando shooting, President Obama made a case for modest gun regulations, arguing that, at the very least, suspected terrorists should be prevented from buying guns. On Monday, Senate Democrats proposed a gun law in response to the Orlando shooting that would do just that. If it passes, there will be one more barrier between potential terrorists and the weapons they use to kill — and if it doesn't, Republicans will look very bad for having opposed it.
The bill in question is actually a revival of an older piece of legislation that failed to pass the Senate late last year. Simply put, it would ban individuals on the terrorist watch list from buying guns or explosives anywhere in the country. It's the kind of thing you would assume is already law, but when the Senate considered the measure last December, it failed on a mostly party-line vote.
In a conference call Monday with reporters, The Hill reported that Senate Democrats said they're going to reintroduce the bill later this week.
"In the wake of Orlando, we have to think about what kind of country and what kind of Senate we're going to be," Sen. Chuck Schumer, one of Democrats' top legislative strategists, said on the call, according to The Hill. "Are we going to bow down to the [National Rifle Association] NRA so that suspected terrorists can get their hands on guns? Or are we going to take the painfully obvious, common-sense step and make sure that suspected terrorists can't get guns?"
It's relevant to note, however, that a law like this wouldn't have prevented the Orlando shooter from buying a firearm. While he was on the terror watch list in 2013 and 2014, the FBI removed him after closing the investigation, which is required under FBI protocol.
It's doubtful that this bill will make it to Obama's desk, though, given Congress's perpetual refusal to enact stronger gun laws. Senate Democrats made a high-profile push for new gun regulations after the horrific Sandy Hook massacre of 2012, but even that failed to overcome a Republican filibuster. North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry, a member of the House Republican leadership, has already cast doubt on the most recent proposal.
That said, Republicans face a political risk if they obstruct this bill. The Orlando massacre was a clear and obvious act of terrorism, with the shooter having pledged allegiance to ISIS. Donald Trump and the Republican Party have tried very hard to position themselves as tough on terrorism, and for the GOP to block a law that prevents suspected terrorists from buying guns is, well, terrible PR. Especially in an election year.