Washington, D.C.-U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) led a bipartisan group of 9 Senators-3 Republicans, 5 Democrats, and 1 Independent-in introducing the Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act, a proposal to prevent individuals who are on the No Fly List from purchasing firearms. The legislation was cosponsored by Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Angus King (I-ME), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Joe Manchin (D-WV).
"Our bipartisan bill is based on one simple principle: if you are considered to be too dangerous to fly on an airplane, you should not be able to buy a firearm," said Senator Collins. "This bill is a sensible step we can take right now to reform our nation's gun laws while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance this legislation and close the loophole that allows known and suspected terrorists to legally purchase firearms."
"It just makes sense -- if someone is too dangerous to board an airplane, they're too dangerous to buy a gun," said Senator Heitkamp. "Our bipartisan bill is a needed compromise that balances supporting Second Amendment rights with keeping guns out of the hands of potential terrorists so we can protect American families. And the bill includes important due process rights for those on the lists to appeal. Congress should pass our commonsense bill, which has strong support from Republicans and Democrats, to help keep our communities strong and safe from terrorism."
"Terrorists shouldn't have access to guns, and this legislation has the teeth to make sure they don't," said Senator Flake. "This bill ensures robust due process protections, and should be passed. Restricting those who appear on the 'No Fly' list from purchasing firearms is a logical step that is long overdue."
"It is clear that we have an epidemic of gun violence in this country that has touched far too many lives. It's time to start putting progress in front of politics," said Senator Heinrich. "If our government has determined that an individual is on a terrorist watch list and is too dangerous to fly on an airplane, that person should not be able to purchase a gun. This is commonsense step that Congress can take right now to keep firearms out of the hands of those that would turn them against our communities. I'm proud to join my colleagues in taking bipartisan action to close this glaring loophole."
"If you have been deemed too dangerous to board an airplane, you should not be able to purchase firearms," said Senator Toomey. "This important bipartisan legislation advances our shared goal of keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have them while safeguarding the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. I hope the Senate will pass this bill soon."
"Now is the time for Congress to work together to advance commonsense gun safety solutions that will save lives," said Senator Baldwin. "The bipartisan ‘No Fly, No Buy' legislation is a critical step forward in keeping Americans safe by closing the terror gap and keeping deadly weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals. I'm urging my Congressional colleagues to support this commonsense reform to strengthen gun safety and protect our communities."
"At a time when our country is working to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, it is straightforward and sensible that suspected terrorists should not be able to purchase firearms," said Senator King. "This bipartisan proposal addresses a real national security need without infringing upon any Second Amendment rights. Put simply: this is a common sense solution, and it should be considered as part of a holistic effort to combat gun violence."
"If we suspect someone of being a terrorist and think it would be too dangerous to let that person on a plane, it's probably not a good idea to let that person buy a gun either," said Senator Nelson. "That's just common sense."
"I have always said that with gun rights comes gun sense, and as a proud gun owner, I have always defended our Second Amendment rights. But I will also fight to prevent suspected terrorists from buying weapons," said Senator Manchin. "It's common sense that if an individual is too dangerous to board an airplane, they are too dangerous to own a firearm. I will continue to work with my colleagues on bipartisan proposals like this that prevent dangerous individuals from getting their hands on weapons they can use to harm innocent Americans without compromising the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens."
Specifically, the Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act would:
• Give the Attorney General the authority to deny firearms sales to individuals who appear on the No Fly List or the Selectee List.
• Alert the FBI and local law enforcement of any attempted gun purchase by an individual who has been on the watch lists in the last five years.
• Provide robust, due process procedures to protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. Any American denied a purchase under this bill would have the opportunity to have his or her case heard before a federal district court judge within 14 days.
Senators Collins and Heitkamp first introduced their "No Fly, No Buy" legislation last Congress, at which time it received the support of a majority of the U.S. Senate. It was also endorsed by a group of distinguished military and intelligence leaders, including former CIA Directors General Petraeus and General Michael Hayden, along with former special operations commanders General Stanley McChrystal and Admiral Eric Olson.
The No Fly List and Selectee List are the narrowest subsets of all of the government's terrorism watch lists. These lists include the names of individuals who pose the greatest threat of committing an act of terrorism against aviation, the homeland, or U.S. interests overseas. There are fewer than 3,000 Americans on both lists combined.