Wicker: Combating Terrorism Requires Solutions, Not Politics

Miss. Senator Votes to Prevent Terrorists From Accessing Firearms, Protects Constitutional Freedoms for Law-Abiding Citizens

June 20, 2016

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today voted in favor of two measures that would provide law enforcement with new tools to stop suspected terrorists from buying firearms and strengthen existing laws on background checks. Both proposals protect Americans’ constitutional right to due process and uphold the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

“Suspected terrorists should not have access to firearms – period.” Wicker said. “No one is arguing that point. Rather than using the recent terrorist attack in Orlando for political gain, the goal should be to give law enforcement the tools they need to monitor, investigate, and detain terrorists. I believe this can be achieved while protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.”

Wicker supported an amendment authored by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, which would require law enforcement to be notified immediately when a person who has been investigated for terrorism in the past five years attempts to buy a firearm or explosive. It would authorize the attorney general to delay such sale for up to three business days and to file an emergency legal petition to prevent the transfer. If probable cause is found, the attorney general may permanently block the transfer and arrest and detain the suspect.

The second proposal, offered by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, would strengthen current law by improving state and federal record submission to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) -- without expanding background checks. Grassley’s amendment would also require that persons who are removed from terror watch lists remain in the NICS system for up to five years, and it would add due process protections -- such as notice and a hearing -- for mental incompetency adjudications.

Wicker opposed two amendments offered by Senate Democrats. The first would expand background check requirements to cover nearly every firearm transfer – even those made between family members and neighbors. The second would give the attorney general the authority to deny a firearm transfer based on a totality of the circumstances assessment, without judicial process. The amendment would ultimately deny a constitutional right based on a suspicion of terrorism that has not been adjudicated before a court.