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Jun 22, 2016 3:29 PM

Hassan to NH1 News: Collins-Ayotte bipartisan gun measure 'the very least' Senate should do

NH1 News Political Director

MANCHESTER – Gov. Maggie Hassan says a bipartisan compromise measure to keep terrorists from purchasing weapons “is the very least that the Senate should be doing.”

But the Democratic governor’s Senate campaign said that Hassan would support the measure if she was in the U.S. Senate right now.

The amendment would prohibit weapons sales to people on two terrorist watch lists, including the well-known No Fly List. The legislation would also allow American citizens and green-card holders to appeal if their purchase is restricted, and they would get their legal fees recouped if they win. The measure would include a “look-back provision” that requires FBI notification if someone who’s recently appeared on a broader terrorism database purchases a weapon.

It’s being spearheaded by moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte is a co-sponsor and one of the ringleaders of the bipartisan group of nine lawmakers backing the legislation.

“This is a commonsense bipartisan proposal to ensure that terrorists cannot purchase firearms. No fly, no buy. And this is one where it ensures that Americans have the due process protections that they need to challenge the finding if they believe it is wrong,” Ayotte said on Tuesday.

As Ayotte runs for re-election this year, she’s facing a Democratic challenge from Hassan, in what’s one of the most high profile, expensive, and negative Senate showdowns in the nation.

Asked in a 1-on-1 with NH1 News on Wednesday morning if she could support the bipartisan measure, Hassan said “the compromise as I’ve heard about it is the very least that the Senate should be doing. But it is not nearly enough.”

“What the compromise won’t do is keep known or suspected terrorists from buying guns on-line or at gun shops. That requires that we expand our background checks and I am very disappointed that Sen. Ayotte, along with many other senators, keeps refusing to vote to expand background checks that would in fact keep terrorists, known or suspected, from buying guns not only from gun dealers but also on-line and at gun shows,” added the governor, who spoke with NH1 News at Scribe Software in Manchester following a ceremonial signing into law two bills that cut and simplify businesses taxes.

Hassan was referring to Ayotte’s vote Monday against a Democratic measure to expand background checks. Ayotte voted in favor of alternate piece of legislation sponsored by Republicans.

While Hassan didn’t say in her interview whether she’d support the bipartisan measure, her Senate campaign later told NH1 News that “Governor Hassan would vote for it, but it does not do nearly enough to ensure that suspected terrorists cannot purchase firearms.”

The big question is whether the amendment can secure the Republican support needed to advance in the Senate. The chamber’s majority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has said the amendment could receive a floor vote as early as Thursday. But McConnell’s not supporting the measure. And the National Rifle Association’s opposition to the amendment makes securing GOP support much more difficult.

Meanwhile, the New Hampshire Democratic Party on Wednesday highlighted Ayotte’s answers to a 2010 gun lobby questionnaire in which said that she favored repealing the law that keeps guns out of schools. Ayotte answered the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition questionnaire while running for the U.S. Senate for the first time.

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