WASHINGTON, D.C. - Following a briefing yesterday for members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Orlando terrorist attack, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) announced his support for legislation to prevent individuals on the terror watch list and other suspected terrorists from purchasing guns and explosives. He is cosponsoring the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act, a bill introduced by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would give the Attorney General the authority to block suspected terrorists from buying a gun. Senate Republicans previously blocked a similar bill in the wake of the San Bernardino attack.
"As we continue to learn more about the heinous act of violence inflicted on the LGBT community in Orlando, it is clear that there are concrete steps we can take now to make our nation safer. Our country is weary from violence, tragedy, and grief. After years of continued gun violence and senseless mass shootings the American people deserve meaningful action from Congress," said Sen. Heinrich. "This legislation would prevent a suspected terrorist from purchasing a firearm in the first place. If the FBI believes that someone is too dangerous to board a commercial airliner then they shouldn't be allowed to buy a gun. We can all agree that there are commonsense ways to prevent violence without violating the rights of law abiding gun owners. Passing this legislation is one of them."
Updated data from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that shows known or suspected terrorists pass a background check to purchase a firearm or explosives 91 percent of the time.
Specifically, the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act gives the Attorney General the discretion to prevent someone from buying a firearm or explosives (or obtaining a firearms dealer license) if the Attorney General (a) determines that the individual is a known or suspected terrorist; and (b) has a reasonable belief that the individual may use the weapon in connection with terrorism. The legislation maintains due process protections in current law that allow a person who believes he or she has been mistakenly prevented from buying a firearm to learn of the reason for the denial, and then to challenge the denial, first administratively with the Department of Justice, and then through a lawsuit against the Justice Department.
A copy of the bill is available here.