Legislation

Ryan says House will vote on GOP plan to keep guns from suspected terrorists

Republican speaker of the House calls protest a distraction, says terrorism should be the focus

 

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. said Thursday the House will vote next week on a Republican plan designed to keep firearms out of the hands of suspected terrorists. 

Ryan told House members on a conference call that the legislation would be one of a series of measures meant to curb radicalization and recruitment of prospective terrorists. 

Ryan's office did not provide details about the House bills, but two Republicans told the Associated Press the legislation would resemble a National Rifle Association-backed bill that the Senate rejected last week and was opposed by most Democrats. 

That legislation, proposed by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, would have allowed the government to delay a gun sale to a suspected terrorist for 72 hours, but also required prosecutors to go to court to show probable cause to block the sale permanently.

Republicans say the Cornyn measure protects gun owners' constitutional rights. Democrats say giving prosecutors three days to prove someone is probably involved in terrorism makes it too hard to thwart firearms sales.

Last week, Democrats staged a nearly 26-hour sit-in on the House floor demanding votes on gun control measures following the June 12 Orlando massacre, in which 49 people were killed at a nightclub.

Killed by authorities during his siege, gunman Omar Mateen was an American who pledged allegiance to the leader of the ISIS terror group, according to a transcript of his phone calls with officials during the shootings.

Ryan called it "just common sense" to keep firearms from terrorists, but said it must be done while protecting the right to own guns, according to an official on the call. Ryan said Democrats were trying to change the focus of the debate about the Orlando killings from terrorism to guns "because they cannot stand on their terrorism record," the official said.

Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., part of the House Democratic leadership, called Ryan's announcement "a step forward" but called for votes on expanding gun buyers' background checks and denying firearms to people on two terrorist watch lists.

Drew Hammill, spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the likely House legislation "just isn't going to cut it."

Fox News' Chad Pergram and the Associated Press contributed to this report.