After Congress failed to pass gun control measures proposed by both Democrats and Republicans, Sen. Bill Nelson bemoaned their lack of action on the matter in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting last week.
In a speech after the vote, Nelson said the NRA had “won again.”
“What am I going to tell 49 grieving families?” he asked. “What am I going to tell the families of those that are still in the hospital fighting for their lives? What am I going to tell the trauma surgeon whose bloodstained shoes have been shown in a picture on so many news programs and who said he didn’t know, in the midst of the screams and the cries, if they were black or white, or gay or straight, as they brought in over 40, all at one time, into that trauma operating room? What am I going to tell the community of Orlando that is trying to come together in the healing? Sadly, what I am going to have to tell them is that the NRA won again.”
A Republican proposal would have updated the background check provisions to add more information on mental health to state databases, as well as a requirement to alert law enforcement when an individual who has been on terror watch list in the last five years buys a gun.
A Democratic proposal would have banned anyone on the terror watch list from buying a gun.
However, neither proposal was able to get enough votes to go forward. Republicans thought the Democrats’ plan was too restrictive, and the Democrats thought the Republicans’ was too weak.
Nelson said the provisions previously proposed wouldn’t have stopped shooter Omar Mateen from buying a gun, but he had introduced a new clause that would have stopped Mateen, by barring anyone on a terror watch list in the last five years from purchasing a gun.
“And thus Sen. [Dianne] Feinstein included the bill that I had filed which would catch Mateen because it says if you have been on the terrorist watch list, as he was back in 2013 and 2014, and they didn’t have any prosecutable evidence so they closed that case, if you have been on the terrorist watch list, then when you purchase the gun, the FBI would be notified so that the FBI could make an up-to-date decision that they want to go back and interview that person. And if they had seen Omar Mateen purchasing these, knowing that he had been on their watch list, they would have gone and talked to him.”
Nelson said he owns guns for hunting — but is opposed to guns like the AR-15 Mateen used being in the hands of potentially dangerous citizens on the terror watch list.
“Seems to me, it’s common sense,” he said. “All this is is the NRA locking down its votes, putting the fear of God in our Republican friends and colleagues on the next Republican primary that they’re going to be in.”