Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican from Red Oak, says she wants to be sure that any proposal that would block those on a terror watch list from buying a gun has safeguards to protect the person’s rights.
“There are things that we will be discussing when it comes to Second Amendment rights, are there additional things that can be done,” Ernst says. “We do have to ensure that there is due process with any American citizen that is being denied their rights.” Presumed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says he would ban those on the watch list from buying guns.
Iowa’s other U.S. Senator, Chuck Grassley says he would not because of concerns that the lists are not accurate. Ernst says she has some of the same concerns as Grassley. “There are many people who exist on these lists who shouldn’t be on these lists,” Ernst says, “mistaken names, maybe a typo. Many people have the same name across the nation. And so to deny them a right to purchase a firearm when they are not a criminal, just the average Joe out on the street — that’s wrong.”
Ernst says she voted against a measure last year to ban those on watch lists from obtaining guns for that very reason. “I did support another amendment that would block suspected terrorists from obtaining a gun for up to 72 hours. And during that time, the FBI is able to investigate the individual to either confirm or rule out the identity and the suspected connection to terrorism of that individual,” Ernst says.
She says the measure she supported is better than simply instituting a ban. “This one provides due process, it delays the transfer of the firearm. And if the FBI did find out something, then they would be able to put a motion into the court system to stop that transfer. That’s common sense,” according to Ernst.
Ernst also reiterated what she said earlier this week, that she does not support an outright ban on Muslims into the U.S. She says she does favor properly vetting all those who are coming into the country to ensure they do not have terrorist ties.