Rep. Thompson: ‘I’m a Gun Owner’ Who Supports Expanded Gun Control

Mairead McArdle | December 11, 2015 | 1:30pm EST
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Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA). (AP photo)

( -- Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) says that although he is a gun owner himself and strongly believes in the Second Amendment, he also believes people on the no-fly list should be barred from purchasing guns.

“I’m a gun owner. I strongly believe in the Second Amendment,” Thompson said during an emotional press conference on Capitol Hill Thursday held by House and Senate Democrats to commemorate the third anniversary of the Newtown, Conn. shootings.

“But I would darn sure rather err on the side of caution and inconvenience somebody who maybe shouldn’t be on that list than to allow somebody who is on that list, who shouldn’t have a gun, to be able to buy one and do terror in the United States of America,” he continued.

Thompson is trying to get enough signatures on a discharge petition to compel the Republican leadership to schedule a vote on the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terroists Act (HR 1076).

Joining Thompson at the press conference were House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), all of whom are in favor of expanded gun control.

Members of the Newtown Action Alliance and families of the victims of the Sandy Hook and other mass shootings also spoke in favor of banning those listed on the no-fly list from purchasing guns.

According to the FBI, the no-fly list, a subset of its much larger Terrorist Watchlist, bars around 16,000 individuals linked to terrorists from boarding airplanes. That number includes "fewer than 500 U.S. persons."

And some critics have pointed out that while the Second Amendment guarantees the right to have a gun, there’s no constitutional right to fly.

Others, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), say the list includes many people who merely have the same name as a known terrorist or have travelled to particular countries

“You’re correct; it’s been criticized. They say that there’s people who shouldn’t be on that list,” Thompson responded to a reporter who asked about the controversy surrounding the no-fly list, which was compiled by the government after Sept. 11, 2001.

“Until the government fixes its unconstitutional new process, people on the No Fly List are barred from commercial air travel with no meaningful chance to clear their names, resulting in a vast and growing group of individuals whom the government deems too dangerous to fly, but too harmless to arrest,” a lawsuit filed by ACLU states.

In June, an Oregon judge ruled that the process of getting off the list was so difficult that it was unconstitutional.

But Thompson said there is a simple solution to this dilemma.

“First clean up the list,” he proposed. “Make sure the people who are on there are the people who should be on there. We don’t want people who shouldn’t be on there, not only for gun purchasing reasons, but for scarce resources that our FBI has to allocate to be able to track those folks and to pay attention to what they’re doing.

“Secondly, the bill has an appeals process in it. So if you’re on the list and you’re not a terrorist, you can appeal that and you can get off the list.”

Pelosi also said she intends to eliminate the 19-year-old ban on most federal research on gun violence in the omnibus spending bill. “We must insist that we cannot have a bill leave the station that still has that ban in it,” Pelosi said.

However, the House Minority Leader did not say whether Democrats would be willing to allow a government shutdown if the ban remains in place.

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