U.S. House Republican gun bill draws the
ire of Democrats
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[July 02, 2016]
By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in the
U.S. House of Representatives on Friday introduced a measure intended to
prevent gun sales to people on government watch lists, only to draw
demands from Democrats for stronger proposals and a warning of possible
A week after Democrats ended a 25-hour sit-in on the House floor
to call for gun legislation after the June 12 mass shooting in
Orlando, Florida, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a
Republican, said lawmakers will vote next week on a measure giving
government authorities three days to convince a judge that someone
on a terrorism watch list should not be allowed to obtain a firearm.
"It is a responsible measure that confronts this threat while
protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens," House Speaker Paul
Ryan said in a statement.
But in a Friday conference call, House Democrats reached "a clear
consensus" to oppose the measure, calling it the handiwork of the
National Rifle Association, an aide said. Similar legislation,
backed by the NRA, was blocked by Democrats in the Senate last week.
Democrats also called for two amendments: one to allow the U.S.
attorney general to decide without court approval whether someone on
a watch list could buy a gun and another to expand existing
background checks to all commercial gun sales including those at
Democratic Representatives John Lewis of Georgia and John Larson of
Connecticut, who led last week's sit-in, asked for a meeting with
Ryan to request votes on the amendments, which consist of
legislation originally sponsored by Republican Peter King of New
York. Ryan agreed to meet with the Democrats next Tuesday,
Republican and Democratic aides said.
"If these amendments are not allowed, then members will have further
discussions about possible actions to take in response to this
refusal to allow a vote on commonsense gun legislation," said
another House Democratic aide.
AshLee Strong, a Ryan spokeswoman, said the House speaker "looks
forward to meeting with Congressmen Lewis and Larson to discuss the
important action the House will take to prevent terrorist attacks."
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Assault rifles are displayed during the NRA Annual Meeting &
Exhibits in Phoenix, Arizona May 15, 2009. Over 60,000 people are
expected to attend the three-day convention. REUTERS/Joshua Lott
The new Republican proposal, which would apply to anyone who has
been suspected of violent extremism within the past five years,
would require authorities to show probable cause that a would-be
buyer "will commit an act of terrorism" or violates existing
prohibitions on undocumented immigrants, fugitives, convicts and
people with mental illness.
The gun provisions were tucked into a bill aimed at stepping up
efforts against terrorism, including what the legislation referred
to as "radical Islamist terrorism."
Some Republicans have criticized Democrats for avoiding such terms
to describe events like the Orlando shooting, where a gunman
pledging allegiance to Islamic State killed 49 people last month.
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, said
recently that President Barack Obama should resign for not having
used "radical Islam" in a statement responding to the Orlando
massacre, in which police identified the shooter as a U.S. citizen
born in New York to Afghan immigrants.
The NRA said it was reviewing the legislation, while the Brady
Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said the legislation proposed by
House Republicans was a publicity stunt.
(Reporting by David Morgan; Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell;
Editing by James Dalgleish and Leslie Adler)
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