Let’s inject some radical common sense into the current gun debate in Congress. And let’s start by looking at the numbers.
A recent poll by CNN/ORC found 85% of Americans support prohibiting gun sales to individuals on the FBI’s terror watch list.
As for law abiding citizens, Gallup found 72% of Americans support our individual Second Amendment rights by opposing any law that would prohibit private ownership of firearms.
And fully 88% of Americans think Congress should always follow the Constitution, according to a survey by the Heritage Foundation.
But for the cliffhanger—guess the percent of Americans that approve of the job Congress is doing? Nine. Nine! That’s according to Public Policy Polling in 2013.
I’m a sitting Member of Congress in my first full term. A first time candidate, who never before ran for or held office. But I learned something this past week as the House devolved into chaos.
I learned the low approval rating of Congress is self-inflicted. We do it to ourselves, often by simply failing to act. And at times I fear leadership in both parties is satisfied to deliberately architect failure for the sake of winning a political blame game and winning elections.
I’m sick and tired of it. The hidden scandal of the past week is that a solution that honors the American people’s desire to prohibit gun sales to terrorists while following the Constitution is just within reach.
You see, Republicans like me genuinely oppose the current “no fly, no buy” proposal because we believe it fails to satisfy the due process protections afforded by the Constitution anytime our government denies an individual right like that provided for in the Second Amendment.
And Democrats are genuinely angry that Republicans won’t move substantive legislation to prohibit a suspected terrorist from buying a gun.
I’m offering a third way. I’ve introduced H.R. 5544 to prohibit anyone on the federal National Terror Screening Database from purchasing a firearm while providing due process to those denied their right to do so.
Under my bill, an individual who is turned down at the point of sale must be notified by law enforcement within 10 days that they were denied purchase because of their presence on the watch list. They are then entitled to a due process hearing within 30 days, where all unclassified information must be presented to them and the government has the burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence why the individual should remain on the list and prohibited from purchasing a firearm. The proceeding is sealed to protect the interest of the government and the privacy of the individual.
Additionally my bill would provide notification to law enforcement if someone previously investigated by law enforcement as a potential terror threat later sought to purchase a firearm. This scenario would likely have led to the FBI being tipped off that the Orlando gunman had recently purchased weapons.
Can H.R. 5544 be made even stronger, and fairer, protecting our security while also protecting due process and the second amendment? Perhaps. So let’s have that discussion. And that’s my request of my Congressional colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and what I’m asking of the American people. Let’s help each other get to a solution.
Let’s solve this together. And let’s solve this now. I know we can.
Truly, this should be easy. But one more chapter of Congress architecting failure could be disastrous. And deadly.