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Maine Senators Team Up to Try and Get Gun Control Bill Through Congress

Maine Senators Susan Collins and Angus King are making another run at getting a gun control measure through the gridlocked U.S. Senate.

On Monday the Senate tried and failed to pass dueling proposals to expand background checks and to bar suspected terrorists from buying firearms. Now the question is whether Senator Collins can rally support to a new proposal.

“Surely the terrorist attacks in San Bernadino and in Orlando that took so many lives are a call for compromise, a plea for bipartisan action,” Collins says.

Her bill would bar gun purchases by people on the federal “No Fly” list or on the “Selectee” list, which subjects people to extra security scrutiny at airports and border crossings. Collins says more than 100,000 people are on those lists. But most are foreign nationals, she says, while Americans and green card holders would be able to appeal a permit denial and recover legal expenses if they win.

Senator King says the weakness of gun rules here contrasts with the aggressiveness of US action against terror groups like ISIS overseas.

“If there’s a truckload of arms coming across the desert, we can take them out,” says King. “What sense does it make that ISIS can mobilize people in this country and they can walk into a store and buy a gun?”

The Collins bill would not have stopped Omar Mateen from buying the weapons he used to kill 49 in Orlando, because he was not on a federal watch list at the time. But he had been previously — and under the Collins bill, the FBI would at least receive notice when someone who’s been listed with the past five years buys a gun. Collins says Senate majority leader Mitch McConnel has assured he her will bring her proposal to a floor vote — although the exact timing is uncertain.