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Monday, June 20, 2016

Senate Set for Showdown on Gun Control

The U.S. Senate is poised to take up four gun related proposals today as amendments to the Commerce Justice Science Appropriations bill today.  Added over the weekend is a "compromise" measure related to the so-called "Terrorist Watch List" offered by Maine's Susan Collins.  From the Wall Street Journal:
Any gun-control measure would need to overcome significant hurdles, including winning support in the Republican-controlled House.

Much of the latest attention has centered on a provision by the Senate’s No. 2 GOP official, John Cornyn of Texas, that would notify the Justice Department if someone on one of the terror watch lists, or someone who has been the subject of a terrorism investigation within the last five years, tried to purchase a gun.

That would trigger a court process in which the Justice Department would have 72 hours to demonstrate to a judge probable cause the weapon would be used in connection with terrorism. Democrats say that would be a high burden of proof in a short period of time. 
The NRA announced its support for the Cornyn amendment last week after Mr. Trump said he would like to meet with the organization. 
NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre, speaking Sunday on CBS, said the three-day delay “gives law enforcement the opportunity to go before a judge and prove their case.”

The NRA has suggested only people who could be arrested for terrorism should be blocked from purchasing a weapon. The group last year supported a provision similar to the latest Cornyn measure. NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker on Sunday said the group wants to ensure due process for people erroneously placed on the lists.

Ms. Collins’s proposal, which could be released Monday, is expected to call for a ban on sales of guns to terrorism suspects who appear on either the government’s “no-fly list” or on a separate “selectee list” that requires additional screening at airports. Individuals could appeal the decision blocking the purchase of a firearm, and be awarded attorneys’ fees if successful. Federal authorities would also be notified of any gun purchases by an individual who had been on the “no-fly list” or “selectee list” over the prior five years, allowing the FBI to put the person under surveillance. 
“I am optimistic that I can put together a coalition,” Ms. Collins said Sunday on NPR.
The WSJ noted that the Collins amendment does not include a provision that actually allows law enforcement to stop a terrorist and take them off the street as the Cornyn measures purportedly allows.

The Hill details other proposals on the calendar:
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who faces a difficult reelection bid, has also introduced his own proposal, though it's been disavowed by Democrats. 
The Senate will also debate two background check proposals. 
A measure from GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) would reauthorize and provide funding for the National Instant Background Check System (NICS), provide incentives to share mental health records and bolster federal record sharing. 
The Senate will also take a procedural vote on a proposal from Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy (Conn.), Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Cory Booker (N.J.) to expand background checks. 
Their proposal would require — with a handful of narrow exceptions — a background check for the sale and transfer of any gun.
All of the amendments will require a super majority of 60 votes to advance.

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