House conservatives have kneecapped GOP leaders’ attempts to pass a compromise gun-control bill to keep firearms out of the hands of suspected terrorists, saying Wednesday that the chief Republican plan still tramples on Americans’ constitutional rights.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan had hoped to push the gun proposal through as part of a broad anti-terrorism package, but the House Freedom Caucus said the gun provisions go too far, while the terrorism language doesn’t go far enough.
Without the Freedom Caucus’s support, it’s doubtful Mr. Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will be able to pass their bill, which has drawn fierce opposition from Democrats who say the gun provisions need to be stiffened to deny more people the chance to buy firearms.
In the wake of the Orlando terrorist shooting, all sides are scrambling to find some legislation they can pass to convince voters they’re taking the issue seriously.
Democrats’ preferred alternative would deny gun sales to as many as 1 million people listed on secret FBI-maintained lists.
Republicans, though, say it’s unconstitutional to deny someone’s Second Amendment right to buy a firearm based merely on suspicion. They want to see fewer names involved, and want to create a quick process for those on the lists to have their case heard in a federal court.
Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, has called for the Attorney General to have the power to deny a gun sale for up to three days, giving prosecutors time to go to court to prove a suspect is involved with terrorism.
“We can have security and keep to the Constitution at the same time,” Mr. Ryan said Wednesday after meeting with fellow House Republicans. “That’s why we’re going to get it right and we’re going to do it when we’re ready. And we believe we can do it in a good amount of time.”
But Freedom Caucus conservatives announced their opposition just a few hours later. They said the three-day waiting period amounts to a short-term denial of rights, based on secret lists that aren’t vetted by any courts.