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Sen. Susan Collins Sees Her Gun Control Proposal As A Bipartisan Compromise


After the mass shooting in Orlando, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy took to the Senate floor and held it for 15 hours, demanding the Republican majority allow votes on gun control legislation. This is how his filibuster ended.


CHRIS MURPHY: What can you do to make sure that Orlando or Sandy Hook never, ever happens again? With deep gratitude to all those who have endured this very, very late night, I yield the floor.

MARTIN: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to hold votes on four gun-control measures tomorrow, two from Democrats, two from Republicans. None are expected to pass, which is why Republican Senator Susan Collins is trying to draft a bill she sees as a compromise. Senator Collins joins me now on the line. Thank you so much for being with us this morning.

SUSAN COLLINS: Good morning. I'm delighted to join you, Rachel.

MARTIN: After the San Bernardino shooting last year, the Senate voted down two gun-control proposals. What do you think you can do, Senator, to break the stalemate now?

COLLINS: What troubles me about the votes that we're going to have tomorrow is that they are repeats of the votes that we had after the San Bernardino shootings. And the result is going to be the same; neither is going to pass. I want to get something done, so I've been working with a group of Republicans and talking to many Democrats to put together a new proposal. And the premise of the new proposal is very simple.

It says that if you are too dangerous to board an airplane or if you are so dangerous that you're selected all the time for extra screening before you can board an airplane, you're too dangerous to buy a gun.

It takes the federal government's No Fly List and what is called the Selectee list, which requires extra screening, and says that those are the individuals against whom we have credible evidence and reason to be concerned, and we're not going to allow them to purchase firearms.

MARTIN: So how would that work in practice? Because the people who end up on those lists have not committed crimes, so you would essentially be denying someone his or her Second Amendment rights based only on suspicions.

COLLINS: Well, it's way more than just suspicion. The reason that I have problems with the alternative proposals is they take a huge list that is called the Terrorist Screening Database that has over a million people on it, that is fragmentary, unvetted, uncorroborated, and use that as the basis for denying people their constitutional rights. Now, the vast majority of people on that broader list are foreigners, but there are tens of thousands of Americans on those lists.

And I think that it is not right to deny a constitutional right based on simple, derogatory information that's been reported but not investigated. By contrast, to get on the No Fly List or the Selectee list, there has to be credible evidence that the individual is either involved in a terrorist plot, has terrorist associates or is providing material support to terrorists.

MARTIN: Just briefly, have you personally been able to change anyone's mind? How likely is it that your proposal will pass?

COLLINS: I am optimistic that I can put together a coalition. I have several co-sponsors now, and we're going to - I'm going to keep working on it. But I have had so many calls from both Democrats and Republicans who want to get something done and...

MARTIN: ...We'll have to leave it there, Senator. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us this morning.

COLLINS: Thank you.

MARTIN: Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.