As solutions are sought in the wake of the weekend mass killing in Florida, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is standing by his opposition to a ban that would prevent FBI terrorism suspects from buying guns.
Grassley, a Republican, today said many people who are on terror watch lists should not be listed and have had their constitutional rights violated.
“There’s no right of appeal,” Grassley said. “You might not even be able to find your names on there until you try to fly and can’t fly.”
That list, Grassley said, is not accurate and it once included Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy. The FBI also has what’s known as a “nix list” of individuals who are banned from buying firearms. Grassley said that list is also “flawed.”
“You can get on the ‘nix’ list not to be able to buy guns, just because the VA, the Veterans Administration, has determined that you can’t handle your own finances, you’d automatically be turned over,” Grassley said.
Grassley was asked about the issue this morning during a conference call with Iowa radio reporters. Grassley noted the alleged gunman who killed nearly 50 people and wounded many more in an Orlando nightclub on Sunday was not on any lists and could legally buy guns.
“So, if your question comes from the standpoint that somehow having the legislation that you said I voted against to protect people that shouldn’t have guns having guns, it just isn’t going to hold water,” Grassley said.
Grassley said the FBI should not be given any further latitude to arrest someone who’s made inflammatory statements, but who hasn’t acted on those statements.
“You can’t arrest somebody until they’ve committed a crime and the FBI is the best one to determine whether or not they’ve committed a crime,” Grassley said. “Whether you’re a terrorist or somebody else, you’re protected by the Constitution.”
So, how can situations like the Orlando slayings, the worst mass shooting in modern history, be prevented from happening again?
“You have to find a balance between the number one responsibility of the federal government to protect the American people and the Fourth Amendment right of privacy,” Grassley said.
Last December, all the Republicans in the U.S. Senate — including Grassley and Joni Ernst — voted against a Democratic proposal to ban FBI terror suspects from buying guns and explosives. Democrats in the Senate and the U.S. House plan to push for a vote on that proposal again this month.
While he didn’t support the initial Feinstein proposal, Grassley did support a different bill. It would establish a process where if the government could show probable cause that someone trying to buy a firearm has connections to terrorism, not only would the sale be blocked, but that person could be detained.