WASHINGTON, June 22 (UPI) — Maine Republican Susan Collins unveiled compromise legislation Tuesday in a bid to get some form of new gun control through the Senate.
Her move came just a day after four separate bills prompted by the Orlando massacre were voted down by the Republican majority.
Collins’ proposal would bar roughly 2,700 Americans suspected of being terrorists from buying a gun. It is less stringent than bills previously proposed by Democrats, which couldn’t muster enough votes on Monday.
“All of us are united in our desire to getting something significant done on this vital issue,” Collins said at a press conference, flanked by seven Democratic and Republican senators who worked on the legislation.
“Surely the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and in Orlando that took so many lives are a call for compromise, a plea for bipartisan action.”
Collins’ legislation would prohibit gun sales to people on two FBI terrorist watch lists: the “No Fly List,” which prohibits suspected terrorists from boarding planes heading to or from the United States or crossing U.S. airspace, and the “Selectee List,” which requires extra screening procedures.
There are approximately 109,000 people on those lists. The vast majority are foreigners, but the list is said to include around 2,700 Americans, according to Collins.
“Essentially we believe that if you are too dangerous to fly on an airplane, you’re too dangerous to buy a gun,” Collins said Tuesday.
Under the Maine senator’s proposal, American citizens and legal permanent U.S. residents would be allowed to appeal if their purchase was restricted and entitled to get attorney fees recouped if they win.
There would also be a five-year “lookback provision” to alert the FBI when someone who was previously on a terror watch list purchases a firearm, something that could well have prevented Orlando shooter Omar Mateen from buying weapons.
New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte stressed that the legislation protects Americans’ due-process rights, a major concern among Republicans who voted against a Democratic bill restricting sales on Monday.
Many Senate Republicans have been pushing for a measure that would force the FBI to get a court order when officials wanted to stop a suspected terrorist from buying a gun.
Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich, of New Mexico, who is supporting Collins, warned: “It’s very comfortable for us to sit in our respective corners and vote for something that we know isn’t going to change things. It’s time to start putting progress in front of politics.”
Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chair Charles Schumer said that Collins’ proposal is “a step in the right direction” but that it also has “some serious problems.”
He argued that clamping down on the two smaller FBI watch lists would still allow hundreds of thousands of other suspected terrorists to potentially slip through the cracks.
Collins said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will allow a vote on the proposal soon.