CINCINNATI (AP) — Ohio’s Republican U.S. senator expressed interest Tuesday in a compromise gun control measure being offered in the aftermath of defeats this week of other legislation.
Rob Portman said he hadn’t seen the final language in Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins’ bill meant to block guns from suspected terrorists. Locked in a tight race for re-election, he was criticized by Democrats for his votes Monday against broader gun control measures.
“I’m very interested in finding common ground here because I do think there is a consensus now among Democrats and Republicans for two things,” Portman told reporters. “One, that any known or suspected terrorist should not get a gun, but second, that there needs to be a true due process to be able to determine whether you’re properly on the list.”
Collins’ measure would let federal authorities bar gun sales to two groups: the no-fly list with 81,000 people and the selectee list with 28,000 people. Selectees can fly after unusually intensive screening.
Under her proposal, Americans denied guns could appeal to federal courts. The FBI would be notified if someone who’s been on the broader terrorist watch list in the past five years buys a gun, but could not stop the purchase.
The gun control issue has heated up again in the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub shootings.
Portman on Monday voted for a National Rifle Association-preferred bill to deny a sale to a known or suspected terrorist, but that required convincing a judge within three days that the would-be buyer was involved in terrorism. He also backed a bill meant to improve background checks, while voting against Democrat-sponsored measures including one to close a gun show loophole on purchases.
His Democratic challenger, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, said Portman failed a test of leadership.
“This wasn’t a moment for D.C. double-speak or watered-down bills,” Strickland said in a statement.
A Strickland spokesman said the candidate would have voted for the two Democrat-sponsored bills.
Strickland’s Democratic primary opponent had highlighted the former congressman’s past high NRA approval ratings. Strickland’s campaign said he began changing his positions on gun control after the Sandy Hook school shootings and other mass slayings.
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