Senate Democrats Filibustering Over Gun Buyers

Sen. Chris Murphy
*Photograph via murphy.senate.gov

Pictured: Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)

A filibuster started today by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and joined by fellow Democrats is aimed at getting Republicans to agree on legislation that would deny suspected terrorists from buying firearms and require universal background checks.

"I'm going to remain on this floor until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together," Politico reported Murphy as saying.

The legislation, introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Charles Schumer ( D-NY), would allow the feds to bar gun sales to anyone on a government watch list, or is suspected of using a gun in a terror attack, according to Fox News.

"Explain to me what the 'terrorist watch list' is," Politico reported Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) as asking Murphy. "I'm familiar with the terrorist screening database...but I don't think there's any such thing as 'terrorist watchlist."

According to the FBI, the Terrorist Screening Center, which began in 2003, "maintains the U.S. government's consolidated Terrorist Watchlist—a single database of identifying information about those known or reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activity...by supporting the ability of front-line screening agencies to positively identify known or suspected terrorists trying to obtain visas, enter the country, board aircraft, or engage in other activity, the consolidated Terrorist Watchlist is one of the most effective counterterrorism tools for the U.S. government."

The No Fly List is a subset of the Terrorist Screening Database: "Before an individual may be placed on the No Fly List, there must be credible information that demonstrates the individual poses a threat of committing a violent act of terrorism with respect to civil aviation, the homeland, Unites States interests located abroad, or is operationally capable of doing so."

However, according to HG.org, a legal website, the No Fly List also is used to stop the travel of some registered sex offenders and those either convicted or possibly suspected of illegal drug trafficking. The list has been criticized for its lack of clarity and potential for being abused with regard to various groups. "As a result, many have asserted that the No Fly List is fueled by bigotry, not legitimate intelligence regarding terrorist ties," the site reports.

Connecticut and New York legislators have introduced bills recently that would prevent those on the Terrorist Watch List from buying guns.