Senators split on gun legislation

Published 10:56 am Thursday, June 23, 2016

Would have banned gun sales to those on terror watch list

WASHINGTON — Ohio’s two U.S. senators took opposite sides in a vote on Democratic-sponsored legislation aimed at preventing individuals on the terror watch list from purchasing firearms.

The legislation, proposed by Sen. Diane Feinstein, of California, only garnered 47 votes, with 53 opposing. Most Democrats supported the bill, with Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte, of New Hampshire, and Mark Kirk, of Illinois, joining them.

The opposition was comprised of Republicans, who were joined by Sen. Heidi Hietkamp, of North Dakota.

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Ohio’s Sen. Rob Portman, joined his Republican colleagues in opposing the bill.

In a conference call with supporters on Tuesday, he said he feared due process could be denied those on such a list.

He did, however, say he would be receptive to compromise legislation being proposed by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, which would allow American citizens and those who hold a green card to appeal a challenge to purchases.

Portman said a key factor in his support would be who the legislation puts the burden of proof on.

“It has to be on the government,” he said. “Not the individual.”

Portman’s Democratic Ohio counterpart, Sen. Sherrod Brown, voted for the legislation.

In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Brown said that Republicans opponents of the legislation were being too subservient to campaign donors in the Nation Rifle Association.

Brown said he was hopeful that compromise legislation by Collins could gain bipartisan support.

“I applaud Susan Collins for being one of the few Republicans not in the gun manufacturers pockets,” Brown said. “I hope enough will be able to stand up and do the right thing.”

Brown said, in addition to supporting the legislation, he supports a ban on assault weapons and background checks for gun purchases.