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Rep. John Katko: Time for Congress to act to ‘keep guns out of the hands of terrorists’

July 13, 2016 GMT

U.S. Rep. John Katko is criticizing Democrats and Republicans for not voting on legislation that would prevent individuals on terror watch lists from buying guns.

Katko, R-Camillus, expressed his disappointment that a bill he supports, the Homeland Safety and Security Act of 2016, hasn’t been considered by the House of Representatives.

The legislation introduced by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy includes several counterterrorism provisions. It also contains a measure that would ban suspected terrorists from buying guns if the Department of Justice can provide a valid reason for why they shouldn’t possess firearms.

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However, the bill isn’t supported by Democrats, who have been vocal about the need for legislation banning those on terror watch lists from buying guns. It’s also opposed by some conservative Republicans.

“It’s unfortunate that partisan intransigence on both sides of the aisle kept a workable solution from getting a vote in the House of Representatives this week, but I remain hopeful that common sense will prevail and this bill will get the consideration it deserves,” Katko, R-Camillus, said Wednesday.

The gun control legislation has been a hot political issue this summer as both parties look ahead to the general election. It first came to prominence after the San Bernardino attacks and received more attention after a gunman killed 49 people at an Orlando nightclub in June.

Katko has been targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and his Democratic foe, Colleen Deacon, for not supporting a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican, that would prohibit anyone on the terror watch list from buying a gun.

Deacon, D-Syracuse, recently said Katko “thinks we should allow suspected terrorists to buy guns in this country — that is simply unacceptable.”

While Katko doesn’t support that bill, he has cosponsored legislation submitted by U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, another New York Republican, that would achieve a similar goal. The measure also would require the U.S. attorney general to review whether there are innocent people on the watch lists.

So far, none of these bills have advanced in Congress. But Katko said he’ll keep trying to secure an agreement on such legislation.

“I will continue to urge my colleagues — both Democrat and Republican — to take action on this issue,” he said.