Three House Republicans and one Democrat announced Friday the introduction of legislation to prevent individuals on certain terrorist watch lists from purchasing a gun but with an appeals process for denials.
The bill, identical to a proposal Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins offered in the upper chamber , is part of a bipartisan, bicameral attempt to find a legislative compromise on restricting terrorists’ access to guns following the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, this month that left 49 people dead and 53 others injured.
The measure would impose restrictions on gun purchases by people on the no-fly and selectee lists but not the broader consolidated terrorist watch list .
The members leading the charge in the House are Republican Reps. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, Robert J. Dold of Illinois and Scott Rigell of Virginia, and Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts.
The introduction of the bill comes a day after Democrats ended a nearly 26-hour sit-in protesting inaction on gun control, and after the Senate held a test vote on the Collins proposal which drew the support of 52 senators. However, the House members said Friday they started working on their version of the legislation before those two events.
“What’s brought us here today, Democrats and Republicans, is some shared common values,” Moulton said, citing civil liberties and due process as important to both parties.
The due process component of the bill, which provides for judicial review in federal court to determine if an individual deserves to be on the no-fly or selectee lists and thus banned from buying a gun, is especially important to gaining Republican support for the measure.
“I’m convinced that this represents common ground, common sense,” Rigell said.
Rigell — a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and an owner of an AR-15 that he uses for target hunting and likes to have around for protection — pointed out that the legislation would impact a “very narrow” segment of the population. Only 3,000 Americans — or 0.001 percent of the U.S. population — are on the no-fly and selectee lists, he said.
Another component of the bill would require law enforcement to be notified when any individual who has been listed in the Terrorist Screening Database within the last five years purchases a gun.
“If this provision had been law, the Orlando attack could have been prevented,” Curbelo said.
Omar Mateen, the gunman in the gay nightclub shooting in Orlando, had been listed in the database during a 10-month investigation by the FBI but was removed after the investigation was closed.
Had law enforcement been notified that Mateen purchased firearms in early June, “they could have interviewed him, they could have put him on surveillance,” Curbelo said.
Curbelo said he met with Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s chief of staff before they introduced the bill. “There was no objection from the speaker’s office,” he said. Rigell was meeting with the speaker’s office Friday on the matter.
“It’s up to us to build the support for this legislation,” Curbelo said when asked how they plan to convince House leaders to allow a vote on the measure.
While some Democrats will say this bill doesn’t go far enough, “the point is to make some progress rather than none at all,” Moulton said.
The bill does have a few Democratic co-sponsors, including Reps. Robin Kelly of Illinois, Mike Thompson of California, Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, and John Carney of Delaware.
“We owe it to the American people to work together to try to get sensible gun control legislation actually passed—and in order to do that, it must be a bipartisan effort,” Gabbard said in a statement.
Republican Rep. Peter T. King of New York is also a co-sponsor. Curbelo said he’s received calls from other GOP colleagues interested in learning more about the bill, and Dold said he hopes more members will come out and express their support.
“Political talking points aren’t going to solve this problem,” Dold said. “We owe it to the American people to prevent future atrocities.”