The Ripon Forum

Volume 50, No. 4

September 2016

A Common Sense Step in the Fight Against Terrorism

By on September 22, 2016

by CARLOS CURBELO

In recent years, our world has seen a spike in mass shootings and deadly attacks at the hands of home-grown extremist terrorists, some inspired by radical interpretations of Islam. From San Bernardino to Orlando, our nation has been ravaged by these assaults, as have our friends and allies in France and Belgium. We as Americans know the devastating effects these massacres have had on our communities, and we have come together to rebuild a stronger nation more aware of the dangers facing the world.

Currently, individuals on the TSA No-Fly list aren’t automatically prohibited from purchasing a firearm. If an individual can’t board a plane in the United States because of the dangerous risk they may pose, then there is no reason they should be able to purchase a firearm. To address this, I introduced the bipartisan Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act of 2016 (H.R. 5576) in the House of Representatives, the companion to Senator Susan Collins’ bill in the Senate.

If an individual can’t board a plane in the United States because of the dangerous risk they may pose, then there is no reason they should be able to purchase a firearm.

This legislation gives the Attorney General the discretion to deny the sale of firearms and explosives to individuals who appear on the No-Fly and TSA Selectee lists. To protect American citizens’ 2nd Amendment rights, this bill gives those who are initially denied from purchasing a firearm the opportunity to challenge the decision. If the government fails to meet that burden and make a case within a reasonable time period, then the transfer can go forward. The opportunity for judicial review of the Attorney General’s denial upholds the fundamental tenets of our Constitution by allowing the continued exercise of 2nd Amendment rights while not allowing firearm sales to those who threaten our nation’s security. In addition, if the petition is successful, the citizen will be able to recover their attorney’s fees.

To ensure proper Congressional oversight over the Justice Department, the bill requires the Attorney General to submit a report to the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees of the House and Senate, detailing the number of persons who were denied a firearm, the number of petitions filed, and the number of instances in which the district court rejected the Attorney General’s decision. It would also require that the Attorney General, as well as federal, state, and local law enforcement officials, be notified of any request to transfer a firearm or explosive to a person who is or has been identified in the Terrorist Screening Database within the last five years. Had a bill such as this already been implemented, it could have stopped the Orlando Shooter — who had previously been on a terror watch-list — from buying firearms.

There are around 109,000 names on the TSA No Fly and Selectee lists, with fewer than 2,700 of those individuals being U.S. citizens. I respect the 2nd Amendment rights of Americans, while also firmly believing that any person who cannot board a plane is given additional screening before purchasing a firearm. The Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act does this while protecting the rights of Americans who feel they were wrongly denied the sale of a firearm.

There are around 109,000 names on the TSA No Fly and Selectee lists, with fewer than 2,700 of those individuals being U.S. citizens.

We must protect Americans from the growing threat of terrorism here at home while our brave military fights radicalism overseas. After the horrific massacre in Orlando and countless other mass shootings across the country and around the world, Americans deserve more than words; they need action. Congress must work to ensure that terrorists cannot purchase firearms. This is simply common sense. The Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act of 2016 carefully balances our national security priorities with Constitutional protections for those who obey the law.

I will continue to press upon House GOP Leadership to allow for debate on this bicameral legislation and remain committed to working with my colleagues to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals who wish to inflict harm upon our great nation.

Carlos Curbelo represents the 26th District of Florida in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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