North Carolina’s U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, both Republicans, voted against Democratic-backed proposals to expand background checks for all gun sales and supported a GOP version of a so-called “no-fly, no buy” restriction.
Republicans and Democrats alike mostly toed party lines Monday night when four pieces of gun legislation saw votes. None of the proposed gun control measures passed, lacking the necessary 60 votes from senators to move forward.
Burr and Tillis voted against gun control proposals from Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Chris Murphy of Connecticut.
Murphy sought to close what some call the “gun show loophole” with a measure that would have mandated background checks for all gun purchases, including those on the Internet.
On Tuesday, Burr said: “I still believe that personal sales should be excluded because you put individuals in a liability situation that is indefensible.” He added that personal sales make up a small portion of gun purchases.
Feinstein’s proposal would have given the U.S. Justice Department greater authority to stop gun sales to any person suspected of terrorism who had been investigated by federal officials in the past five years. Feinstein sought to create a flagging system during gun purchase background checks. Her proposal would have allowed the government to block the sale if there was “reasonable suspicion” the person had terrorist ties or planned to be involved in terror activity.
Burr’s general election foe, Democrat Deborah Ross, criticized his votes. Her campaign referenced his opposition to Feinstein’s push for the same gun control measure late last year.
“For the second time in six months, Richard Burr had the opportunity to do right by North Carolina’s families, and for the second time, he failed,” Ross’ campaign spokesman, Cole Leiter, said in a statement Monday. “It’s simple: North Carolinians don’t want suspected terrorists to be able to easily buy guns, and for good reason – it makes us all less safe.”
Instead, Burr and Tillis voted for Republican-backed legislation also aimed at keeping guns away from terrorists. That measure was introduced by Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.
A major difference between Feinstein’s and Cornyn’s bills relates to the hurdles federal officials would have in presenting evidence to keep a suspected terrorist from buying a gun. Cornyn proposed a 72-hour delay on gun sales to people whose names have been on a federal terror watch list within the past five years.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the 72-hour window likely wouldn’t be enough time to react to every gun purchase flagged.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the 72-hour window likely wouldn’t be enough time for her office to react to every potential gun purchase flagged. Largely, Republicans contend that Cornyn’s proposal preserves due process for U.S. citizens and residents more so than Feinstein’s.
Burr and Tillis also supported legislation from Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican. Grassley teamed up with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on a proposal to streamline some national background check abilities, including making it easier to add mental health histories to the database. Gun control advocates argued that Grassley’s measure wouldn’t do enough to make sure states quickly and accurately report information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Tillis’ office sent a news statement Monday night blaming partisan gridlock for the four failed gun control attempts. He said Cornyn’s proposed amendment would have blocked terrorists from buying guns and boosted law enforcement capabilities to thwart terror attacks.