tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN December 9, 2015 6:27am-7:01am EST
liberties of those who might be causing trouble is surprising. we don't say abolish the criminal justice system because not every single person we convict is guilty, although 99% probably are, some large percentage. why are we doing it here? are we saying if there are two or three people on this terrorist watch list, 20 or 30, who shouldn't be there, and they have the right to appeal and correct it -- i've done it for constituents -- that we should let the other thousands on the watch list buy guns who belong on that watch list and who present a danger to america? it makes no sense. so i'd ask my friends on the other side of the aisle, why should terrorists like the one who perpetrated the heinous attack in paris or the ones who did in san bernardino be allowed
to buy a gun? no red herring argument will work. this is plain common sense at a time when we need common sense, and it should not be a partisan measure. guess who introduced this idea originally? not barack h. obama, but george w. bush in 2007. the vast majority of gun owners -- and they have a right to have a gun, and i would protect that right for them to have a gun if they're not a felon or adjudicated mentally ill or a spousal abuser -- therefore everyone is for it. the other side says no. so i hope people now who have become -- i ask unanimous consent for 30 additional seconds. now that it's become clear since our last vote that the two in san bernardino had terrorist ties, i hope when senator murphy makes the u.c., the unanimous consent request, the other side will support it.
i yield the floor. mrs. shaheen: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: mr. president, i come to the floor to join my colleagues because i also believe we should keep guns out of the hands of terrorists. now, i don't think that applies to law-abiding citizens, but i think it does apply to terrorists. i've been a strong supporter of the second amendment. in new hampshire, we have a rich tradition of safe and legal firearm ownership. we have a rich tradition of hunting and sportsmen's activities. but like most granite staters, i also support pragmatic and sensible ways to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people who would threaten this country while also protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens. that's what we're discussing here today. we have put forward commonsense
legislation that adheres to a pretty simple principle. if you're not allowed on a plane because you're on a no-fly list because you're suspected of threatening the country, then you should not be allowed to buy a gun. i want to repeat what senator schumer said because i think people don't think that this is real. they think, oh well, if you're on the no-fly list, you're not going to be able to buy a gun. but l according to the government accountability office, between 2004 and 2014, suspected terrorists attempted to purchase guns from american dealers at least 2,233 times, that we know of. and in 2,043 of those cases 91% of the time those suspected terrorists succeeded. that is just unacceptable, and
it's time we close the loophole that allows suspected terrorists to purchase guns. after the horrific tragedy last week in san bernardino that was carried out by radicalized individuals, it's clear that we immediate to be doing more to prevent violent attacks inspired by isis here at home. closing this loophole in our gun laws is a commonsense thing that we can do today. now, i've heard concerns that the legislation that we have proposed doesn't allow for adequate due process for those on the list, but that is just not correct. the department of homeland security has a process in place for removing your name from the no-fly list. as senator feinstein, the author of the legislation, has noted, the f.b.i. office that handles the firearm background check system must provide a reason for a denial upon request. individuals who are listed then have a right to correct any
inaccurate records in the background check system. so there is a process in place if people are wrongfully on that no-fly list, to be able to remove their names. so i would just ask those who oppose this bill if the no-fly list is not good enough for keeping guns out of the hands of terrorists, why is it worthwhile for protecting commercial airline flights from terrorists? the reasoning is just inconsistent. it's time -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mrs. shaheen: -- to come together in the interest of national security to close this this -- pass this bill. mr. blumenthal: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. we talk in this chamber about the threat of terrorism and many associate terrorist threats with airplanes and explosives, but we've seen in recent horrifying
events in paris and san bernardino how much tragic carnage can be brought by a small number of people using firearms designed for war. assault weapon that had the purpose to kill and maim humans. no other purpose. for me and for the american people, common sense says a person too dangerous to be permitted on a plane is too dangerous to be permitted a gun. no fly, no gun. no check, no gun. and that ought to be the rule. it's a commonsense rule. whenever i talk to people in connecticut, they say to me, why didn't the senate approve .idn't the senate approve . there is no commonsense
explanation. and the reason given by colleagues on the other side that there's some due process violation is nonsense. i hesitate to say it is that frivolous, but it is because, number one, there's a right to challenge the designation on the no-fly list through the department of homeland security, which has to provide reasons and an opportunity to challenge it. but also under senator feinstein's bill, there is an additional safeguard to constitutional rights because it can be challenged through the department of justice, which is required to establish an administrative process, and then an appeal. a right of appeal to the federal courts. anybody denied permission to buy a gun has a right of appeal. and so the rule no fly, no gun
is based on common sense and legal constitutional right. no right in fact is absolute, whether it's the first amendment or any other right. there is the guarantee in the constitution that there will be reasonable restrictions when necessary to protect the public interest. and here is a case of the public interest clearly deserving of this protection. if there are problems with any individual being on the list, challenge it. but clearly having to wait 72 hours for that check and for the denial of permission to go forward is unreasonable. and so i urge that we move forward with this commonsense
protection for the public. i am hard pressed to think of a more clear and staggering example of the gun lobby's influence than the defeat of this bill. plainly, the vote last week showed that the gun lobby unfortunately still has a staggering stranglehold on this process. when it comes to law enforcement, they are on our side. and i urge our colleagues to heed this reasonable request: no fly, no gun. if you're on that no-fly list, if you're too dangerous to fly and to board a plane, the constitution -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. blumenthal: -- says that this reasonable restriction should be adopted. thank you, mr. president.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i ask consent to speak for three minutes. i understand i wasn't in the original request. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. klobuchar: thank you very much, mr. president. when i was a prosecutor, we had one straightforward goal: convict the guilty and protect the innocent. to me, that simple mission still holds true. we must make our world safer by rooting out evil in our midst while still protecting the rights of people who mean no harm. those 14 people in san bernardino, that american aide worker killed in mali, innocent families whose planes exploded over egypt and those young people killed and maimed in paris deserve nothing less. that means, of course, taking out the evil at its roots, increasing our efforts and leading an international coalition against isis. and it means keeping our homeland safe. part of that is tightening the visa waiver program.
some of it is the work that must be done on encryption. but there is one commonsense way to get at this terror that i join my colleagues in supporting today, commonsense action to close a dangerous loophole that allows suspected terrorists to legally buy guns in the united states. incredibly current u.s. law does not prevent individuals who are on terror watch lists from purchasing guns. a total of 2,233 people on the watch list tried to buy guns in our country between 2004 and 2014 and more than 2,000 or 91% of them cleared a background check according to the information from the government accountability office. i'm a cosponsor and have been before these tragic events of the last few weeks. i'm a cosponsor of senator feinstein's bill to close this loophole. and during last week's budget debate, i joined 25 of my senate colleagues in offering an
amendment that would also have stopped these dangerous individuals from buying firearms and explosives. passing legislation to ensure that suspected terrorists cannot buy guns has bipartisan support in the house of representatives where republican congressman peter king of new york has long advocated for this change. as we work to fight terrorists abroad, as we work to stop the recruitment in our own country, which i know well from my own state, the state of minnesota, where we have over a dozen cases, indictments against those that were trying to go to fight with isis and others who were going to fight with shabaab, we've been very aggressive in going after those cases and in working to prevent this recruitment from occurring in the first place. this is all a piece of a very difficult puzzle. but to just close our eyes and say that people on the terror watch list can go out and buy a gun is wrong. we need to do everything we can to ensure that those suspected of terrorist activity cannot buy guns in the united states.
i'm hopeful that the senate can come together to advance this commonsense national security measure to keep lethal weapons out of the wrong hands. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. murphy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. i'm here to join my colleagues in our call to bring forward a debate and vote on the senate floor a measure that's supported, i argue, by probably 95 to 99% of my constituents, that is the simple idea that if you're on a terrorist watch list, if you are suspected of being involved in terrorist activities, that you shouldn't be able to purchase a gun. and i'll be asking for a unanimous consent agreement in order to move this debate before the floor. but here's why it matters. what we know right now is that over the last 12 months isis has
lost about 25% of their territory in iraq and syria. that's not good enough, and hopefully we will be able to join together to put even more pressure on the so-called caliphate, to shrink it down eventually to elimination, but the growth of isis is dependent on two narratives. one, this narrative that the so-called caliphate is growing, and, second, the narrative that east is at war with west, that the muslim world is at war with the christian world. and as their first narrative is becoming less powerful, then the second one becomes even more important. and so as shocking as paris was, as shocking as san bernardino was, it's not surprising in the respect that these attacks outside of syria and iraq are now becoming more important,
more necessary to this terror organization in order to perpetuate this second set of mythologies around the islamic world being at war with the christian world. and so it is a moment now where republicans and democrats have to come together around hardening our country from potential attackers and potential attacks. and to recognize that because these attacks may be more important than ever before to the future expansion of isis, that we have to take steps to make sure that they don't occur. and so one of the simplest ways we can do that is embodied in senator feinstein's piece of legislation. let's just say together that those that are on the terrorist watch list -- --s and a list tht you get on if you have -- and this is a list that you get on
if you have reason for the f.b.i. or other lawful to believe that -- law enforcement to believe that you are affiliated with a terrorist organization, you haven't committed a crime yet but you affiliate with terrorist organizations. let's just afree that peoplagren that list should be, by default, prevented from buying guns. now, importantly, this bill has provisions in it for individuals to get off that list. to be able to say they were poue put on that erroneously. but let's just say that if you are on the terrorist watch list, you shouldn't be able to purchase a gun. research tells us that the vast overwhelming majority of americans support this law. and in addition, the vast overwhelming majority of american gun owners support this law. in part because they've seen the statistics and it bears repeating. my colleagues have talked about these numbers but they really stun -- reallyare stunning.
over the last 10 years, 2,223 times swown th someone on the tt watch list has attempted to purchase a weapon. and in 2,043 of those instances they were successful in purchasing the weapon, taking it home. that's a 91% success rate. now, it may be that one or two of those 2,000 shouldn't have been on that list, but this legislation gives them the power to contest that and to get off that list eventually, as it should. but let's not live in a fantasy world in which the majority of people on this list shouldn't be there. this list isn't foolproof. but the vast majority, 95%, 99% of those on the terrorist watch list, are there with reason and they shouldn't be able to walk out of a store with a weapon. that's why three-quarters of gun owners, 90% of americans support this legislation. and while today it's become
partisan -- republicans are standing almost in lock-step against a bill to stop terrorists from getting guns -- historically it's been bipartisan. this was initially proposed by president bush and then-attorney general alberto gonzales. and so let's make it bipartisan again. let's today on the floor of the senate decide that we're going to have a debate on this and that we're going to bring it for a vote. because that's where the majority of our constituents are. they want us to take steps together to stop terrorists from getting guns. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. murphy: mr. president, i'd ask unanimous consent that the judiciary committee be discharged from further consideration of s. 551 and the senate proceed it to its immediate consideration. i further ask that the bill be read a third time and passed and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, reserving the trite to object. would the senator modify his request to include the cornyn substitute amendment which is at the desk?
the presiding officer: does the senator so modify his request? mr. murphy: mr. president, reserving the right to object. it's my understanding that this substitute would require the federal government to go to court in order to stop someone on the terrorist watch list from purchasing a weapon. as a default, we should all agree that if you are on the terrorist watch list, you can't walk out of a gun store with a gun. and it simply shouldn't be incumbent upon the federal government to go through a court process in order to stop you from doing that. there are ways in which if you shouldn't be on the list, you can get off the list. but there is absolutely no reason to delay the process of stopping one of these would-be terrorists from getting a gun by requiring complicated court processes every time that someone on the terrorist watch list walks into a gun store. so for that reason, mr. president, i would object to
the motion to modify. mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i'm astonished by the proposition of our friend, the senator from connecticut, that you can be on a secret watch list by the federal government and just by virtue of this secret listing of an individual on a government watch list, you can be denied some of your core constitutional rights without any necessity of the government establishing probable cause or produce any evidence that would justify the denial of a core constitutional right. and i guess if it's good enough to take the government's word by this list without proof or showing of probable cause to deny a citizen their constitutional rights under the second amendment, then i guess that's good enough to deny your right to worship according to the dictates of your conscience,
freedom of speech, freedom of association, all of the other rights enumerated in the constitution. it's a -- it's an outrageous proposition. and i would say to my friend, if it is -- if these people are true -- on this government watch list are truly dangerous, why isn't the obama administration and the obama justice department indicting them, taking them to court, trying them and convicting them of crimes? instead, you have this secret watch list without any proof, without any evidence. i would just say that i would -- that the senator has mischaracterized the amendment that i proposed last week and which i've now offered by unanimous consent. what would happen is if an individual on the watch list goes in to purchase a gun, there would be the national instant criminal background check syst system, which would then access
the watch list. and if the department of justice was worried based on that notice that somebody was attempting to buy a gun, then they could intervene for 72 hours to stop the individual from purchasing the gun. if they were worried about this individual further, they could go to court and produce before a federal judge evidence to detent individual to take them off the street. this is a complete response to the concerns raised by our friends across the aisle. but i'll tell you what's really motivating all of this. first of all, the feinstein amendment, which was offered last week, was a complete substitute to the obamacare repeal bill that we voted on and passed last week. as such, this was a means --
syrusirsurreptitious means, rear to us repeal obamacare which only has about a 37% approval rating. and our colleagues across the aisle dmie knew that. under the senate procedures, a complete substitution to the reconciliation bill that we passed last week, would have been accomplished if the feinstein amendment were agreed to. but they went even further and are trying to distract the american people from the fact that the president of the united states and commander in chief has absolutely no strategy to deal with the isis here in the united states. i presume the immediate motivation was what happened in san bernardino, this terrible tragedy. but our colleagues across the aisle are trying to capitalize on that particular tragedy in
order to justify this unconstitutional attempt to deny american citizens their core constitutional rights without any proof and without any evidence. i would just add that if our freandz crosfriends across the k that this watch list is so perfect and so infallible, they ought to read an editorial that was produced by "the new york times" in 2014. where the american civil liberties union and others objected to the watch list as being a secret government list without any evidence or any proof. they cited a 2007 audit of the 71,000 people on the watch list on, the government watch list, and noted that half of those 71,000 were erroneously included in the watch list.
so we all understand what's going on here. this isn't about finding solutions to real problems. this is about trying to change the subject and to detract -- distract the american people from the fact that the president and this administration has absolutely no strategy to deal with the threat of isis. and the president tells us merely to stay the course. so i understand what's going on. i also would say that the main -- the other main purpose of our friends across the aisle, other than to defeat our ability to repeal obamacare, which we successfully did in the senate last week, this is to create a "gotcha" moment for senators and candidates that are running in 2016. already the senator from connecticut's appeared on national news shows. the president of the united states on the -- his weekly --
weekly speech to the nation. the senate democratic leader have already misrepresented what was in the cornyn substitute to the feinstein amendment last week. to suggest that people who voted against the feinstein amendment really, really wanted to make sure that terrorists got guns. that's an outrageous accusation and it's -- it's as false as it is outrageous. so i think it's pretty obvious what's going on here. this was an effort to undermine our ability to repeal obamacare. it's a effort to distract from the fact the president of the united states, the commander in chief, has no strategy to defeat isis. in fact, the democratic leader yesterday said, really what we need is an isis czar. an isis czar? i thought that's the job of the commander in chief, the
president of the united states to fight and win the nation's wars and to keep us safe here at home. give me a break. and then this foolish idea that we ought to just simply take the federal government's word without any proof or any necessity of producing evidence in a court of law and meeting some basic minimal legal standard before we deny american citizens their core constitutional rights is just outrageous. so, mr. president, i -- i think it's pretty obvious what's going on here and i think the americae the american people render their judgment. for that reason, i object. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: i ask unanimous consent to speak for five minutes. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president.
the senator is correct, that last week senate democrats out that it was more important to talk about terrorism than was to talk about the repeal of the affordable care act for the 16th time in the united states senate, 55 to 60 times in the house of representatives. we did think that it was more important last week to be talking about stopping terrorists from getting weapons. and i'm sorry that we didn't find that bipartisan consensus last week. but what we're talking about here today is a different threat than we've ever seen before. and what we want to do is to stop terrorism before it happe happens. so the senator from texas is right that many of the individuals on the terrorist watch list have not committed a crime. but in order to get on the terrorist watch list, you have to have been in communication with those that are trying to create radical jihad here in the united states. and so by denying those individuals from getting a
weapon, you are serving to prevent a terrorist attack from happening. why would we wait until after the terrorist attack has occurred mured t in order to std from buying a -- to stop that individual from buying a gun? this provision precludes individuals from that list if you're not on it. it is our tradition of supporting the right of law-abiding citizens to buy and purchase a weapon, but to suggest that the only pathway to stopping an individual from buying a weapon is a criminal prosecution when we know there are people right now in the united states that are in contact with radical ideologies, may be contemplating attacks against the united states, misunderstands the way in which we are going to prevent future terrorist attacks from happening in this country. and, mr. president, this notion
that those of us who want to change the law in order to better protect americans are capitalizing on a tragedy? that's ridiculous, and it's insulting, frankly. a lot of people say, you can't talk about policy changes when it comes to guns right after a mass shooting. you know what? there's been a mass shooting every single dmai this country, on average. if you had to wait 24 hours or 48 thowrgs tal hours to talk abt strategies to keep people safe, then you'd never talk about people safe because there is a mass shooting every day separateway from the people who die from the drip, drip, drip, of gun values al violence all as country. i don't think any of us mean to suggest that those who oppose this bill supported by three-quarters of american gun
owners, 90% of americans, are rooting for terrorists to get guns. that's not what i'm saying. but what i am saying is that those who oppose this are more concerned with protecting the rights of potential terrorists than they are protecting this country. because that's what we're talking about here. we're worried about the rights of people on the terrorist watch list more than we are about taking steps to protect this country. because what we're talking about is a temporary inconvenience. if somebody is on this watch list who shouldn't be -- and it is a very small number -- then they have, through this legislation, a means to get off that list. and so they have to wait a couple days, maybe a couple weeks in order to buy a weapon a tiny mu number of people who e inconvenienced is the cost of protecting the country from
potential terrorist attacks is the benefit. that's a trade that my constituents would take in a heartbeat. i'm sorry that we aren't able to proceed with a debate on this bill, but i think i can speak for my colleagues that we will be back on the floor in the days and the weeks and the months to come to continue to ask for a vote on simple legislation to make sure that potential terrorists cannot get their terrorists cannot get their
>> would the government consider that a success or a failure? >> i think what the monorational -- >> eliminate people that were not on the address and to get accurate to aim democracy and not defect in democracy. >> thank you, mr. speaker. can i ask what the government is doing? >> my friend asked a very important question. if the sifl service is to work to support the whole country it needs to