South Florida Congressman and Democratic Senate hopeful Patrick Murphy announced Tuesday his support for legislation that would ban people put on the terrorist watch list from being able to buy firearms in the U.S.
That’s the same legislation that the GOP-led Congress rejected last week in both the House and the Senate, coming in the same week of the massacre in San Bernardino. Two Florida Republicans running for Senate, David Jolly and Ron DeSantis, voted against the bill in the House.
“This bill isn’t perfect and there’s going to be too many people on it,” Murphy said in a conference call, reciting the argument that most Republicans sussed last week in rejecting the legislation. “Let’s have a simple conversation about how you improve the legislation, get it up for a vote immediately, and show not just Americans but the world that we are going to act.”
The normally mild-mannered Democrat blasted Congress for refusing to act in the wake of another mass shooting, saying that there are too many politicians “willing to do nothing” and sit on the sidelines because of threats from the National Rifle Association.
“They are rejecting the most basic safety measures because they’re intimidated by the gun industry, so I think it’s an embarrassment to our country, and an embarrassment to those folks not willing to support this that they will cave to these special interest groups on something so common sense,” he said.
Murphy said the issue is one of common sense and shouldn’t be partisan. However, it has become partisan over the years, and Republicans have been mocking President Obama, congressional Democrats, and news organizations like The New York Times for talking about gun control when they say the U.S. is at war with radical Islamic terrorists.
As has been well documented, there have certainly been mistakes made by the Department of Homeland Security in compiling the terrorist watch list. Murphy says, however, that’s not a good enough reason to not act. “It’s not some arbitrary list,” he said. “This list is based on some serious evidence, serious investigation done not only by the FBI, CIA and many agencies and working with our allies around the world to develop a list of those we think suspected of nefarious activity. To me, it’s completely common sense that we keep people who are suspected terrorists from buying a gun.”
In supporting his opposition to the legislation last week, Florida Senator Marco Rubio said there are “700,000 Americans on some watchlist,” but that number was wildly overstated, something that fact checking organizations called him out on. Murphy said the same thing on his conference call. “This proposal does not affect all of the estimated 700,000-800,000 people that are on that terrorist watch list. Because the legislative proposal doesn’t actually require the Attorney General to use the watch list, the No Fly List, or any other list. He or she has flexibility.”
Overnight David Jolly, one of those Republicans running for the same senate seat that Murphy hopes to capture next November, issued a statement blasting Donald Trump for his comments that the U.S. should bar all Muslims from entering the country until the nation’s leaders can “figure out what is going on” after the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino.
Murphy said he stands with Jolly on that front, saying, “We’ve been agreeing with what Jolly said and denouncing those comments. It’s nice to see bipartisan support for Donald Trump to get out of this race.” He also said what Trump is doing was “McCarthyism all over again.”
Murphy says he wants Jolly, DeSantis and the two other GOP Senate candidates — Todd Wilcox and Carlos Lopez-Cantera — to support the proposal.