Florida lawmakers lead battle over post-Orlando gun controls

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Washington, DC, June 23, 2016 | comments

MIAMI HERALD

Florida lawmakers lead battle over post-Orlando gun controls

By James Rosen

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, head of the Democratic National Committee, fueled a fractious revolt Wednesday as she helped lead a sit-in over gun limits on the House of Representatives floor that threw Congress into chaos and forced Republicans to adjourn the session.

Adding to the ferment on Capitol Hill since the Orlando shooting, Rep. David Jolly of Indian Shores, Fla., broke with other Republicans as he pushed his bill that would prevent people on terrorist watch lists from buying guns while courts reviewed their cases.

South Floridians Wasserman Schultz and Rep. Lois Frankel, along with dozens of other Democrats, breached House decorum, as set by bipartisan rules, by leaving their seats, moving to the front of the chamber and sitting on the floor.

The dramatic action was a protest against the refusal of Republicans, who hold a House majority and can control which measures are moved, from considering legislation that would ban the sale of guns to people suspected of having terrorist ties.

“How many families and communities will be torn apart by our epidemic of gun violence before Republicans summon the courage to act?” Wasserman Schultz said during the sit-in. “How many more times will they block the ‘No Fly, No Buy’ legislation that would help keep us safe? Their inaction is a national disgrace, and House Democrats will not stand for it any longer. And so we sit.”

The dramatic action was a protest against the refusal of Republicans, who hold a House majority and can control which measures are moved, from considering legislation that would ban the sale of guns to people suspected of having terrorist ties.

“How many families and communities will be torn apart by our epidemic of gun violence before Republicans summon the courage to act?” Wasserman Schultz said during the sit-in. “How many more times will they block the ‘No Fly, No Buy’ legislation that would help keep us safe? Their inaction is a national disgrace, and House Democrats will not stand for it any longer. And so we sit.”

And despite the FBI suspicions, Mateen was able to buy a Sig Sauer MCX assault rifle and a Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol on successive days from two Florida gun stores about a week before his rampage.

Jolly’s measure, which he introduced Tuesday, would prohibit people on the FBI’s terrorist watch lists from buying a gun.

Under the bill, those denied would be notified within 10 days and provided a hearing before a federal judge in no more than a month, at which they could provide evidence that they were tagged erroneously or make other due-process arguments.

Jolly’s legislation is similar to a bipartisan compromise measure being pushed in the Senate by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, along with Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of North Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.

During the Democratic sit-in, senators visited the House floor to express solidarity with their House counterparts. Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Patty Murray of Washington and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts were among those who took up spots alongside the House protesters.

“House Democrats are doing the right thing,” said McCaskill, who was on the losing side in Senate efforts to pass limits on gun purchases by suspected terrorists. “It’s a simple proposition — if you’re suspected of terrorist activity and can’t fly, you shouldn’t be able to buy a gun. A vote on that is a reasonable request. And what’s particularly disappointing is to see Republican leadership turn off the cameras.”

In an emotional speech, Frankel said she thought of her son as soon as she heard about the deadly Orlando violence, and recalled mass shootings at a South Carolina church a year ago and at a Colorado theater in July 2012.

“Before I am a politician, I am a mom,” said the second-term Democrat from West Palm Beach. “So today I demand action for the mom in Aurora who sent her child to the movies, for the mom whose children went to pray in Charleston, for the mom in Orlando whose child went out for a night of celebration.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article85413017.html#storylink=cpy

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