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Ted Deutsch says terror watch list gun ban vote is ‘the very least we can do’

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Democrats returned to Washington Monday determined to push for gun control legislation in the wake of the Sunday morning shooting massacre in Orlando — and they’re concentrating their energies on a bill that would bar suspected terrorists from acquiring guns or explosives.

“If we can’t at least come together to figure out how to get rifles out of the hands of terrorists, then we’ve got bigger problems in the U.S. Congress …” said Boca Raton Democratic Representative Ted Deutch, speaking to WIOD-610 a.m. radio in Miami on Tuesday.

The South Florida Congressman released a statement Sunday morning calling for an immediate vote on closing the loophole that allows people on the terror list to buy weapons. “This isn’t politics; it’s common sense,” he said.

That sentiment was expressed by Congressional Democrats around the country and in Florida on Monday, including from Tampa Bay area Rep. Kathy Castor and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

Speaking with host Jimmy Cefalo on Tuesday, Deutsch attempted to knock down the objections from critics of the proposal, which failed to get the 60 votes needed for passage in the Senate last December, a day after the San Bernardino shootings.

“The arguments range from the ridiculous, which is any law that has anything to do with guns is a violation of the Second Amendment, which is absolutely untrue, to the absurd, which is you should stop worrying about inanimate objects like guns,” Deutsch said.

Deutsch said there was never any justification for the loophole, but especially in the wake of the deaths of 49 people from guns shot by Omar Mateen, who the FBI interviewed in 2014 after they learned that he was in contact with another Florida man who drove a truck packed with explosives into a restaurant in Syria.

Republicans have opposed removing the loophole, because they say that the terrorist watch list is comprised of people who have not been accused of a crime or convicted of any wrongdoing.

Deutsch said he didn’t believe the argument was valid.

“We specifically drafted the legislation in a way to address that very concern,” he said. “You’re only going to be denied a gun if you’re on the terror watch list and there is reason to be concerned about you.”

“I’m so frustrated with the fact that on this issue, it’s not partisan,” Deutch complained. “It’s not a gun grab — it’s a public safety matter. It’s reasonable and after this most horrific experience that happened in Orlando that we’re all still struggling to come to terms with, it’s the very least we can do.”

Democrats have talked tough in the past few days about ridding the country of assault weapons, but speaking on a conference call with reporters on Monday, New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said that while he personally supports such legislation, he didn’t see that having any chance of passing in the current Congress.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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