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Dems try to force vote on ‘no-fly’ list gun limits

<p>Democrats launched an aggressive push on gun control Monday, starting with a procedural move aimed at forcing the House to vote on legislation to stop individuals on a government no-fly list from buying weapons.</p><p>California Rep. Mike Thompson introduced a discharge petition that Democrats hope can gather enough support to compel Republican leaders to schedule a gun control vote in response to a series of deadly shootings nationwide, including in San Bernardino, California.</p><p>The push is part of a larger messaging campaign Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s party is deploying. House Democrats will hold a hearing on gun control, participate in a vigil for gun victims and hold news events with advocates from Newton, Connecticut — the site of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.</p><p>“It is unconscionable that a suspected terrorist can enter a store and leave with the gun of his choice. We must close this terrorist gun loophole and act to strengthen our system of background checks,” Pelosi said. “House Democrats will press forcefully for Congress to take up common-sense solutions to address the epidemic of gun violence in our country.”</p><br><p>This marks the first time in recent memory that House Democratic leadership will attempt to use the discharge petition process to force a gun control vote. The effort faces an incredibly tough path in the House.</p><p>Democrats are hoping Republicans will break ranks and support the petition, which would force a vote on a bill to stop individuals on the terrorism watch list from legally buying a gun. Thompson would need 30 Republicans to sign on if every Democrat supports the effort — an uphill battle, given strong GOP opposition to new gun limits.</p><p>“Terrorists shouldn’t be able to legally buy guns. However, right now, someone on the FBI’s Terrorists Watchlist can go into a gun store and buy a firearm of their choosing — legally,” Thompson said on the floor. “Last week, House Republicans voted three times to protect the ability of suspected terrorists to continue buying guns. This made our country less safe.”</p><p>The legislation was first introduced by New York Rep. Peter King, a Republican, and is broadly popular with American voters.</p><p>But forcing a vote will still be difficult because Republicans have expressed little appetite for votes on gun control and are focusing their response to the San Bernardino shooting on the Islamic State and national security.</p><p>The FBI is now investigating the San Bernardino shootings, carried out by Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, as an “act of terrorism.”</p><p>Congressional Republicans have blocked similar measures from being attached to a must-pass government spending bill, and the Senate voted down a pair of gun control measures last week that were designed to put Republicans on record on guns.</p><p>House Republicans have also endorsed a bill by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) that tackles mental health. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has expressed concerns that the terrorist watch list is overly broad and shouldn’t be the standard for stopping individuals from buying guns.</p><p>“[People] have a due process [right]. They have a constitutional issue when it comes to the Second Amendment as well. You can’t just say that because somebody is on a list. … I’d rather understand how someone gets on the list,” McCarthy told reporters on Monday.</p><p>Senate Democrats hope additional roll-call votes on gun measures will help pressure Republicans. President Barack Obama called on Congress to pass the legislation during a rare Sunday evening address.</p><p>“Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun,” Obama said. “What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security.”</p><br><p>Rep. Steve Israel, the New York lawmaker in charge of the House Democrats’ messaging arm, said the U.S. is approaching a “tipping point” on guns because of the fear of lone attackers and the frequency of mass shootings.</p><p>“House Republicans have absolutely no defense on the issue … and we intend to use every single tool in our toolbox to force and even shame House Republicans into making it harder for terrorists to kill Americans,” Israel said.</p><p>He added, “There may be a menu of options for us, but when you have a bill already introduced by the Republicans it is obviously harder for the Republicans to say that this isn’t bipartisan.”</p><p>Beyond the discharge petition, Pelosi and other lawmakers will hold a news conference Thursday with relatives of the Sandy Hook victims. And the Newtown Action Alliance will deliver letters to House members on Wednesday asking for support on gun control legislation.</p><p>Thompson is also holding a hearing of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Forum to discuss further gun control measures.</p><p><i>John Bresnahan contributed to this report. </i></p><br>

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