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Senators Formulate Gun Control Compromise

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Senators Formulate Gun Control Compromise

A gun rights supporter openly carries two pistols strapped to his leg during a rally in support of the Michigan Open Carry gun law in Romulus, Michigan April 27, 2014. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

By Richard Cowan and Julia Edwards

Some Republican senators tried on Friday to craft a compromise bill to impose limited gun restrictions in the face of pressure from Democrats and public rage over the Orlando mass shooting, the deadliest in modern U.S. history.

A gunman killed 49 people at the Orlando, Florida, gay nightclub last Sunday, sparking a scramble over competing gun measures in the U.S. Senate.

While past gun-control measures have failed to clear Congress, the massacre, coupled with public pressure and a suggestion by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump that he can work with gun rights lobbyists to bring about change, may be changing the picture.

Republicans over the years have blocked gun control measures saying they step on Americans’ right to bear arms as guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. During a week-long Senate debate, Democrats generally have criticized proposed Republican measures as being ineffective.

Republicans and Democrats have offered four separate proposals to expand background checks on gun buyers and curb gun sales for people on terrorism “watch lists.” But they seem destined to fail because of partisan politics and a requirement that any proposal muster 60 of the 100 votes in the U.S. Senate.


Republican Susan Collins of Maine, leading the new effort, is considering a more tailored approach. It would prevent the sale of guns to terrorism suspects whose names appear on either the government’s “no-fly” list, which bans them from boarding planes, or a so-called “selectee” list that requires additional screening at airports, her office said in an emailed statement.

These lists are much shorter than a broad terrorism watch list kept by the FBI.

Collins’ measure also includes a five-year “look-back” provision that would notify the government if someone who had been on the “no-fly” or “selectee” list in the last five years, but was dropped, purchases a gun. “That would allow the FBI to put the individual under surveillance or take other appropriate action it deems necessary,” Collins’ office said.

The gun control issue is deeply divisive and there have been no major restrictions passed since 1994, when Congress imposed a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons. That expired after 10 years.

About 71 percent of Americans, including eight out of 10 Democrats and nearly six out of 10 Republicans, favor at least moderate regulations and restrictions on guns, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted from Monday to Thursday. That was up from 60 percent in late 2013 and late 2014.

Vice President Joe Biden weighed in on the debate, urging a public groundswell in support of banning the type of weapons that have been used in mass shootings. “Assault weapons and high-capacity magazines should be banned from civilian ownership,” Biden said on Friday.

Both the gunman in the Orlando attack, Omar Mateen, and the married couple who carried out a December mass shooting that killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, were thought to have been inspired by militant Islamist groups abroad.


Collins’ proposal likely would be offered in the Republican-led Senate sometime next week, provided the four other gun-control proposals fail to pass on Monday. Collins is working on the legislation with Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire; she has also been talking to Democrats.

A senior Democratic aide said that Democrats have concerns that under Collins’ bill, some people credibly suspected of involvement in terrorism would not be covered by the weapons ban.

Collins told reporters on Thursday that barring everyone on terrorism watch lists from weapons purchases carried with it the risk of affecting people who have been swept onto the lists without good cause.

U.S. authorities maintain several watch lists – the Federal Bureau of Investigation maintains three and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence runs one database. People are placed on such lists based on the threat level they are believed to pose.

“What we’re trying to do is not deny constitutional rights to a large group of individuals” who find themselves on watch lists despite the fact that there might not be credible evidence of potential criminal intentions, Collins said.

At least one Senate Democrat, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, has been involved in the talks, her spokeswoman said.

“I think she (Collins) is sincerely committed to finding a way to work this out,” said U.S. Senator Chris Murphy who, along with fellow Democrats, set the U.S. Capitol abuzz by talking on the Senate floor for nearly 15 straight hours this week to demand that Congress act on gun control.

Murphy said it was too early to say whether any Democrats would get on board with her approach.

On Friday, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group in the United States, the Human Rights Campaign, said it would push for curtailing access to assault-style rifles, expanding background checks for firearms buyers and limiting the ability of suspected terrorists to purchase guns.


(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell and Doina Chaicu; Editing by Frances Kerry and Howard Goller)

Photo: A gun rights supporter openly carries two pistols strapped to his leg during a rally in support of the Michigan Open Carry gun law in Romulus, Michigan April 27, 2014.  REUTERS/Rebecca Cook



  1. stsintl June 19, 2016

    As the background history of the mass murderer has come out, he was a mentally disturbed individual throughout his life, like all other mass killers. He had no connection to any foreign terrorist groups. With exactly the same personal history if his name was Oliver Martin, the media and Donal Trump wouldn’t have reported it as “Radical Christianity” though Christian Radicals have passed dozens of laws in Red States against the LGBT community.

    1. johninPCFL June 19, 2016

      Seems like he was turned down too many times while trying to gun up dates from amongst the bar patrons. Was he really even Muslim?

      1. stsintl June 20, 2016

        He wasn’t a Muslim, by choice. May be by birth. In this holy month of Ramadzan, fasting and prayers are prescribed for all healthy body individuals. Good deeds are rewarded multi-times more than they are at other times of the year. Muslims are supposed to feed the hungry, and give shelters to those in need, specially during this month. This disturbed individual committed mass murder of innocent people who had done no harm to him in this sacred month. How can he be a called a Muslim. God’s eternal curse is on him, according to Islam.

  2. Lynda Groom June 19, 2016

    Forgive me if I don’t stand up and cheer. It is embarrassing that they can’t even agree that folks with possible connections to terrorism should not be allowed to purchase firearms. You might think that such a situation would have been solved years ago, but not with our dysfunctional Congress. The overwhelming majority of Americans, including gun owners, want some form of background checks and yet movement, if any, is always hard to recognize from leadership.

  3. Katstiles June 19, 2016

    How many innocent women, children, and men have to die before the NRA stooges in DC take the common sense steps supported by most Americans? Thousands, hundreds of thousands? I guess the problem is these mass murders aren’t happening in the neighborhoods of GOP congressmen and senators so they don’t really give a damn!

    1. 2ThinkN_Do2 June 19, 2016

      Is there really such a thing as “common sense” when it comes to the non-sense that flows from Washington DC? No one is addressing the “real issue”, they never do, they refuse to see it. They think it involves regulations, bans and limiting rights.

    2. DEFENDER88 June 19, 2016

      Hillary’s answer is to ban “So Called” Assault Rifles.
      Problem is, feel good as it may to you – this will Not Work.
      It is not Common Sense and it has nothing to do with gun safety.
      Common Sense maybe to those operating on emotions alone but who don’t really understand the dynamics of the issue and how to mitigate it.
      It will work about as well as your now, feel good, common sense Safe? “Gun Free Kill Zones” you created.
      It will work against overall gun Safety and mitigating the killing.
      It cannot be “totally” stopped but it can be drastically reduced.
      You espouse Gun Safety and Common Sense gun reform but there is No Common Sense nor real Gun Safety in this proposal.

  4. 2ThinkN_Do2 June 19, 2016

    Uncle JOE Biden also said: you should fire a warning shot . . . . people should truly stop and think before they open their mouth and release a “brainohazard”

    1. Box June 19, 2016

      And Auntie Diane Feinstein said that “you dont need a gun when your house is being robbed. When they enter with their guns and bad intentions and see you are not armed, they will immediately drop their guns. And everyone knows that.” And thats from a person who herself has a concealed carry permit and is never without her gun.

  5. Marv Nochowitz June 19, 2016

    Just how many people are on these lists? Are we talking hundreds, thousands or millions. And how many of them want to purchase a gun.?

    1. johninPCFL June 19, 2016

      The last I saw it was about 30,000. At least two who were on the list bought guns and slaughtered Americans.

  6. Box June 19, 2016

    Liberals say, dont blame all islam for one bad muslim; they say dont blame all drivers for one bad drunk; they say dont blame all airline travelers for one bad hijacker; they say dont blame all people for one bad house robber; they say dont blame all gays for one gay with HIV; but if any of the above had a gun, just one, blame all gun owners since the beginning of time and make them suffer, and their yet unborn generations of children. Why is that?

  7. Box June 19, 2016

    Yes and whats a terrorist? Define that person (before the fact). It could be anyone, so anyone and everyone goes on the list and thats the real objective. But again, even a terrorist has rights of due process under the law. Take away rights of some people while others have rights and you have created a caste system like India, if not a dictatorship in which some person rides herd over all people and decides who has rights and who doesnt. The method of determining who is good or bad is subjective and arbitrary and thats why its wrong. Its only after the fact (crime) that a definition can be made, and when there is a crime THAT person must suffer for it, not the whole lot who did nothing wrong. But then, here we go again, people dont want vetting for immigrants but they want vetting for citizens who want to buy a gun under their lawful rights. Why is that? If you as a liberal think its unfair to vett immigrants before they have committed a crime of terrorism, then its also unfair to vett citizens who want to own a lawful gun before they have committed any crime with it. You cant have it both ways even on a good day.

    1. Sand_Cat June 20, 2016

      Well, we could start by looking at lunatics like you.

  8. DEFENDER88 June 20, 2016

    Assault Rifle Ban?
    Rifles account for about 4% of gun Crime.
    Assault Rifles(As a Rifle sub group) account for about 0.4% of gun Crime.
    Really !? SO – what is the Real objective here ?
    It does not seem to be preventing Gun Crime or the killing.

    “Common Sense”?? Gun reform/control ??
    A terrorist killed 49 people with a rifle. So lets take all rifles away from honest gun owners who follow the law and don’t “want” to kill “anyone”, so they will also be defenseless.
    More ill advised Emotional Insanity from the Left.

    This is not speculation – we tried this for 10yrs before with no effect on gun crime.

    1. Sand_Cat June 20, 2016

      No one has proposed taking anyone’s guns.
      Those who can’t pass a background check are not likely “honest gun owners who follow the law.”

      1. DEFENDER88 June 21, 2016

        Hello Cat.
        I hope you know by now that “my” rifle is not a threat to anyone who is not attacking me.
        And most all people I know are that way.

        All this stuff about trying to keep guns out of hands that should not have them we most all agree with.
        But Bans on the most popular guns in the US – uhh NO.
        One of Hillary’s fundamental, announced(several times), gun reform planks is to “Ban Assault Rifles”. To wild cheers at her rallies.

        That will, essentially, disarm me if I am facing a rifle threat.
        Which has happened to me in the past.
        You don’t want to fight a rifle with a pistol.
        If things get bad, I expect at least some thugs will come here with rifles. I don’t want to face that with just a pistol.
        Plus I can hunt with mine if need be, makes a great versatile hunting rifle.
        We tried a 10 yr ban on “So-called” assault rifles and it had no effect on gun crime.
        Nor will it in the future.

        ps They are not “Military grade Assault Rifles” they are not “Assault Rifles” at all.
        While they “look” scary, Functionally – they are the same as standard semi-auto hunting/ranch rifles.
        And not as powerful as many hunting/ranch rifles.

  9. Paul Bass June 20, 2016

    These weapons are used for 2 things.
    1) go to a range, shoot off several dozen rounds, and have a orgasm over it.
    2) Shoot dozens of innocent people.

    How are EITHER of these EVER considered NORMAL!

    Yes, I’m sure to be flamed/trolled endlessly, the truth hurts, you wackos.

    1. DEFENDER88 June 22, 2016

      From what you say it seems you don’t know much about guns.
      That’s fine if its not your “thing”.
      But you seem ignorant(not dumb) just ignorant as in “not knowing” that these guns are now the most popular guns in the US for hunting, self defense, sport shooting, and more “good” uses.
      And “on balance” they are used to deter and prevent more crime and killing than actual killing they are rarely used for(but the killing does get headlines).
      ps They are Not “Assault Rifles”, they are called that because they “look” like Assault Rifles but they truly are Not and definitely not Military grade.


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