Mikulski Speaks on Senate Floor Calling for Action to Pass Bipartisan Collins Bill to Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Suspected Terrorists

Audio of Senator Mikulski’s remarks is available – here.

Video of Senator Mikulski’s remarks is available – here (broadcast quality) and here (YouTube).

  Following mass shooting in Orlando, Senator has continued to push for action to strengthen gun laws and curb gun violence


After joining Senator Murphy’s filibuster on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Senator Mikulski joined House Democrats in their historic sit-in on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives demanding action to keep communities safe


WASHINGTONU.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee, today spoke out on the Senate floor calling for action to pass the Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act of 2016, bipartisan legislation by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) that would keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists.


The bipartisan compromise legislation introduced by Senator Collins builds on an amendment blocked earlier this week by Senate Republicans to close the terror gap. Senator Collins’ legislation would prevent people on the “No Fly List” or the “Selectee List” from purchasing firearms.


Specifically, the bipartisan legislation would:


  1. Give the Attorney General (AG) the authority to deny firearms sales to individuals who appear on the No Fly List or the Selectee List.          
  2. Provide a process for Americans and green card holders to appeal a denial in U.S. Court of Appeals and to recover their reasonable attorneys fees if they prevail.   
  3. Set forth a procedure for protecting classified information during the appeal.
  4. Protect ongoing Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) counter-terrorism investigations by giving the AG the discretion to allow gun sales to go forward to individuals covered by this Act.
  5. Include a “look-back” provision that ensures prompt notification to the FBI if a person who has been on the broader Terrorism Screening Database (TSDB) within the past five years purchases a firearm.


Following the mass shooting in Orlando, Senator Mikulski introduced an amendment with Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) to fully fund the FBI, increasing funding for counterterrorism efforts and support active-shooter training grants for law enforcement across the country. She also introduced an amendment with Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) to fund Department of Justice programs that prevent bias-motivated attacks and discrimination. Additionally, Senator Mikulski cosponsored Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) amendment to close the terror gap.


Senator Mikulski joined Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on the Senate floor during his filibuster, speaking out in support of his amendment to close the gun show loophole and expand background checks for private gun sales. She also joined House Democrats on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in a historic sit-in led by civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) demanding the House be allowed an up or down vote on legislation to curb gun violence.


Senator Mikulski’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow:


“I rise today in support of the bipartisan compromise amendment from the Gentlelady from Maine, Senator Susan Collins. Some say it is a good first step. I say it is a significant step forward in violence control.


“Now I can assure you, those of us who want to control violence, in no way want to impinge upon Second Amendment rights. But we do want to curb violence in our country which is at epidemic levels. That’s what Senator Collins’ amendment does, and I salute her efforts.


“Senator Collins’ amendment is a true bipartisan compromise. Democrats, under the leadership of Senator Dianne Feinstein, introduced a ‘no fly, no buy’ amendment. The Feinstein amendment did not pass, neither did the Republican alternative.  


“Now, Senator Collins has introduced a compromise. Her amendment does not go as far as Senator Feinstein’s, but it follows the principles we want to establish. If you don’t want someone to fly because they are so dangerous we’re afraid they are going to commit a violent act that will kill people, why should that person be able to buy a gun to kill people? Senator Collins answers this in a very specific way.


“The Collins amendment allows the Attorney General to deny firearms to those on the No Fly List or the Selectee List. These lists name known or suspected terrorists – the vast majority of which are not American citizens. The No Fly List has 81,000 people on it, and includes fewer than 1,000 Americans. The Selectee List has 28,000 people, including fewer than 1,700 Americans.


“Under the Collins amendment, the FBI will be notified when a person who has been on the Terror Watch List anytime within the last five years tries to purchase a firearm. If the Collins amendment had been law, the FBI would have been alerted that the Orlando shooter wanted to buy guns.


“The Second Amendment is protected with due process for individuals mistakenly put in the database. Someone who believes he or she has been mistakenly prevented from buying firearm can find out why they were denied and challenge the denial without the Department of Justice revealing classified information.


“Using the words of my Maryland colleague Congressman Elijah Cummings, after living through our own turmoil in Baltimore, ‘We seek not only common ground. We seek higher ground.’


“I salute Senator Collins for seeking higher ground with her compromise amendment to curb violence in our country. Compromise is not a word to be dismissed or denigrated. Compromise does not mean capitulation on principle. It means putting our patriotic duty before party or personality. It’s what the American people want: civility, intellectual rigor and commitment to responsibility.”