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Sen. Graham Reminds His ‘Friends in the NRA’ That ‘Every Right Has Boundaries’

At a press conference held Tuesday afternoon by a bipartisan coalition of senators urging new legislation that would prevent people on the no-fly list from buying guns, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) urged his “friends in the NRA” to remember that “every right has boundaries.”

“I own a AR-15. If you’re on this list, it doesn’t bother me one bit that you can’t buy one right away,” Graham said. “Here’s what I’m willing to say to the people of South Carolina: We’re at war. And I don’t know how to really protect our nation without changing the way we do business in a fashion that makes sense.”

The press conference begins at approx. 35:15 below.

Though it was far from a panacea against radical Islamic terrorism, he said the proposal was a “step in the right direction” to preventing homeland attacks.

“To my friends at the NRA,” Graham said, “I understand your concern about denying somebody the right to buy a gun. That’s a constitutional right. But every right — whether speech or buying a weapon or any other constitutional right — has boundaries on it.”

The proposal would prohibit gun sales to those on the no-fly list, and it would flag for the authorities any gun purchases made by someone who had been investigated for terrorism in the last five years, according to Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who has been leading the charge on the plan. Anyone on the list could appeal and recover attorneys’ fees if successful, and the burden of proof would be on the government, she added.

Graham was one of a number of senators co-sponsoring Collins’ proposal who spoke at the press conference, including Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), and Bill Nelson (D-FL). “They keep using the word bipartisan” to describe the coalition, King said. “I prefer the word nonpartisan.”

The press conference came one day after four gun measures, two from Republicans, two from Democrats, were each defeated on the Senate floor Monday. Two of those proposals — one from Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) and one from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) — were written with the goal of blocking gun sales to people suspected of having terrorist ties. Both failed to gather the 60 votes necessary to advance.

“As we had the votes yesterday on the Senate floor,” Ayotte said, “we knew what the result was going to be. And this is an opportunity for us — instead of having political votes that we know are going to fail — to stop the politics with this issue.” Ayotte, who was instrumental in crafting the appeals process of the proposal, added: “This is a common sense bipartisan proposal to ensure that terrorists cannot purchase firearms. No fly, no buy. And this is one that ensures that Americans have the due process protections that they need to challenge the finding if they believe it is wrong.”

“This is a straightforward proposal,” Heinrich said. “I think we’re all heartsick at the terrible Groundhog Day feeling that we’ve had as we’ve seen shooting after shooting after shooting in this country.”

Kaine said that the Senate had been “impotent, weak, silent, and a bystander to this carnage and violence.”

Graham said that it was far less likely for an innocent person to end up on the list than it was for someone on the list to buy a gun and use it in a terrorist attack.

“We can fix the problem with the innocent person,” he noted. “Once the gun’s bought, you don’t fix that.”

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