Gwen Graham co-sponsoring Bill Nelson’s gun purchase oversight bill
U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham in March 2016. Photo by Ryan Ray


U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham may straddle the fence on some issues dear to progressives, but she came out on Thursday with a full-throated endorsement of Senate Democrats’ plan to notify the FBI when a suspected terrorist buys a firearm.

The bill’s main Senate sponsor is Florida’s senior Sen. Bill Nelson, who introduced the bill Wednesday in response to renewed political will to rein in guns following Sunday’s lethal mass shooting at a gay night club in Orlando.

“In the wake of the horrific terrorist attack against the LGBT community in Orlando, Floridians from across our state are demanding change. There is no one answer to solve the problem of gun violence in America — but that doesn’t mean Congress shouldn’t try to make our streets safer, to save lives, to prevent another tragedy like the Pulse shooting.” Graham said in a statement announcing the move.

“This is commonsense legislation that will help prevent suspected terrorists from attacking Americans, without infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens. I applaud Sen. Nelson for his leadership on this issue, and I’m proud to join him in this effort,” continued Graham.

Specifically, the bill would mandate anyone is, or who has been, under a terrorism investigation be entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which gun dealers now check when vetting a potential gun buyer.

The administrators of that background check list shall notify the FBI if someone on the list buys a gun, according to the proposed legislation.

Graham joins Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson of California in backing the law in the Republican-dominated House.

“We need to make sure that those responsible for our country’s security have all the information they need to help keep Americans safe,” said Thompson. “By alerting the FBI when individuals formerly under a terrorism investigation purchase guns or explosives, the FBI can determine if there is new cause for concern and, hopefully, intervene before tragedy strikes.”

The move may signal a shift in Graham’s political priorities. The bill is far more palatable to Florida’s statewide electorate she will try to woo as a gubernatorial in candidate in 2018 than it is to her constituents in the 2nd Congressional District seat she is vacating after 2016.

Ryan Ray

Ryan Ray covers politics and public policy in North Florida and across the state. He has also worked as a legislative researcher and political campaign staffer. He can be reached at [email protected].


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