House Democrats said Friday they will oppose a Republican bill aimed at preventing people suspected of being terrorists from buying guns because they don’t believe the proposal will be effective in stopping the purchases.
The legislation, which will be voted on next week, is similar to a bill authored by Sen. John Cornyn of Texas that Senate Democrats rejected a week ago. It would give the Justice Department three days after a suspected terrorist tries to buy a gun to show that the person should not be allowed to have it. Democrats complain it is onerous and unworkable.
“House Democrats will keep up our efforts to push for the majority to allow a vote on gun violence legislation but bringing up a bill authored by the NRA isn’t going to cut it,” said Drew Hammill, a top aide to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California.
House Democrats held a conference call Friday to discuss the legislation. There was clear consensus the caucus would oppose the GOP gun bill, according to a Democratic aide.
Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, the civil rights icon who led last week’s protest on the House floor to press for votes on gun control, told the caucus he had requested a meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan to ask for votes on two amendments to the GOP bill. One would deal with increased background checks for gun purchases and one would deal with not allowing people on the no-fly list to guy guns.
If Ryan doesn’t allow the votes, Democrats will consider further action to try to force the votes, according to the aide.
Despite the Democratic opposition, the GOP majority is expected to pass the bill.
Republicans defended the legislation as an appropriate response to concerns ISIS-inspired attackers have been able to buy guns despite having drawn past scrutiny from the FBI. At the same time, Republicans want to ensure that innocent people who might have been mistakenly put on a watch list don’t lose their constitutional right to buy guns.
The bill will “provide a process for individuals being investigated as known or suspected terrorists who attempt to buy a gun go to be flagged, delayed and — if the burden of proof is satisfied — denied the purchase,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, said in a statement Friday after posting the bill.
Ryan announced Thursday in a conference call with his GOP caucus that the House would take up the gun legislation and other counterterrorism proposals.
The decision followed a series of disruptive sit-ins on the House floor by Democrats angry that the GOP majority wouldn’t take up gun control legislation following the mass killing at a nightclub in Orlando. The attacker was an ISIS sympathizer who was investigated twice by the FBI but was still eligible to buy the guns he used in the massacre.
Not all House Republicans are on board, though. Rep. Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican often at odds with his party’s leadership, tweeted Sunday night that he’ll oppose the measure.
“House Republicans are pushing a horrendous bill this week. The gun section alone infringes the 1st, 2nd, 5th & 6th Amendments.”