Senators Hail Themselves For Unveiling Gun Bill That Affects 2700 Americans – Huffington Post
WASHINGTON — Congress might (and that’s a big “might”) finally be getting ready to do something about gun violence. There’s a catch, though. The effort will affect only about 0.00083 percent of the U.S. population.
A bipartisan group of senators, led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), unveiled a bill Tuesday that they think can unite people within the gun debate. It would ban firearm sales to the 81,000 people on the Transportation Security Administration’s no-fly list, as well as another 28,000 “selectees” who can fly but are subject to extra screening.
The day before, the Senate had failed to pass any measure to deal with gun violence despite the Orlando, Florida, massacre in which a man who pledged allegiance to ISIS shot and killed 49 people in a gay nightclub. Instead, the lawmakers spent Monday voting down bills that would have tightened background checks on weapon sales and blocked people on all terrorist watch lists — there are many — from buying guns.
Nearly all Republicans opposed those measures, as did a couple of Democrats. Even lawmakers who voted no, however, realize that most Americans don’t understand why the country should sell high-powered weapons to potential terrorists.
Enter Collins’ compromise bill. Since it only targets people on two watch lists, it eases some GOP concerns about Americans who erroneously end up on such lists being denied their constitutional right to possess a gun. Democrats like the proposal because it’s doing something to curb gun violence.
But the vast majority of people covered by the bill are foreigners. Approximately 2,700 of the individuals on those two lists are Americans, which is about as many as could fit into a suburban high school.
The legislation also would have had no effect on recent mass shootings, since even in the two cases of killers who had pledged allegiance to ISIS — Orlando and San Bernardino, California — they were not on the terrorist watch lists.
And, of course, the Americans who are targeted by the bill could still buy weapons without background checks from some individuals at gun shows and in certain types of internet sales.
Yet such are the standards on Capitol Hill that just the announcement of this tiny, fractional step was greeted by many as a breakthrough.
“It’s a great bipartisan proposal,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who voted against Democratic proposals on Monday but signed on to Collins’ bill. “I applaud all of my colleagues who have taken what can only be a pretty terrifying-in-some-ways first step into trying to achieve bipartisan consensus on an issue that today is one of the most contentious issues.”
“It’s time to start putting progress in front of politics,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), who favored the Democratic bills but also signed on with Collins. “I think we’re all heartsick at the kind of terrible Groundhog Day feeling that we’ve had as we’ve seen shooting after shooting in this country.”