PHOENIX — Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday a bill he has introduced would have alerted authorities that the Orlando shooter was buying a weapon.
Flake’s bill includes a provision that would inform the Federal Bureau of Investigation if someone who was on a watch list but later removed attempted to purchase a gun within five years.
Omar Mateen, the gunman who killed 49 people and himself at an Orlando gay nightclub, was on one such list.
“This would have captured this person, Mateen, who actually was, for a time, on the selectee list, but then moved off of it,” Flake said. “The FBI would have been notified in this case that he was purchasing a weapon.”
Flake said his bill has several key differences from the four voted down by the Senate on Monday. He said his bill would deny gun sales to people on the no-fly list rather than the more broad terror-watch list proposed by Democrats.
“It’s tough to justify, let me tell you – and I can’t justify – somebody being on the no-fly list but that same person being allowed to go and purchase an AR-15,” Flake told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Tuesday. “That just doesn’t make sense.”
Flake said, unlike the terror-watch list, the no-fly list has been tightened and controlled more over the years. He said the no-fly list will likely be more welcomed by civil rights organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, that have decried the terror-watch list as unconstitutional.
“I think that they would be fine and civil rights organizations would feel much better about the narrower list we’re going with,” he said.
There is also a provision that would allow someone who is denied a gun purchase to plead their case in court.
“If somebody is on that list … and feels they don’t belong on that list, they can immediately go to an appeals court and the burden is on government to prove [they] should be on that list,” the senator said.
While Flake’s bill will still be met with a few raised eyebrows as it would deny gun sales to some people, he feels it strikes a balance between public safety and guaranteeing Second Amendment rights.
“If we have good due process regulations in there to make sure that people aren’t denied unnecessarily any constitutional right, then this is the way to go,” he said.
Flake plans to discuss the bill further during a bipartisan press conference Tuesday.
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