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Jun 24, 2016 10:29 AM

NH1 News Exclusive: Ayotte says 'we're going to work' to get votes to pass gun bill

NH1 News Political Director

CANDIA – Sen. Kelly Ayotte says “I’m going to be doing lots of meetings” in the coming days to try and secure the votes needed pass through the U.S. Senate a bipartisan measure to keep terrorists from purchasing weapons.

And asked about the vote in Great Britain to depart the European Union, New Hampshire’s Republican senator said “I respect their decision.”

Ayotte made her comments Friday morning in an exclusive interview with NH1 News minutes after speaking at the opening ceremony of the New Hampshire Freedom Cup Golf Tournament, which supports active military and their families as well as veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The gun legislation’s spearheaded by moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. Ayotte’s a co-sponsor and one of the ringleaders of the bipartisan group of nine lawmakers backing the measure.

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.

On Thursday 52 senators voted for the plan, with 46 opposed. While the measure passed an the initial test vote, it fell far short of the 60 votes needed advance the legislation in the Senate.

Forty-four of the Senate’s 46 Democrats voted in favor of the legislation. Two Democratic lawmakers who back the measure, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Diane Feinstein of California, didn’t vote.

Collins, Ayotte, and the two other GOP co-sponsors of the plan, Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, were joined by four fellow Republicans: Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Dan Coats of Indiana, Mark Kirk of Illinois, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Forty-six GOP senators voted against the measure.

“We’re going to work towards a solution and I was pleased that our legislation passed the tabling motion yesterday, meaning it was not tabled, it is still up for consideration in the Senate. So we’re going to work to get the votes that we need. And this is just a commonsense measure to make sure that terrorists cannot purchase firearms while protecting the constitutional rights of American citizens,” Ayotte told NH1 News.

“I think all of us can agree that if you’re too dangerous to get on a commercial flight, you shouldn’t be able to purchase a firearm. And then we have a procedure to make sure that the government has the burden of proof, that Americans who feel they’re being denied their right can make sure that they have to prove that they’re legitimately on this list. And if the government’s wrong they’ll have the pay their costs in attorney’s fees,” she added.

Asked what she’s going to be doing over the next couple of days and weeks to get six more Republicans on board the measure, Ayotte responded “I’m going to be doing lots of meetings and seeing what people’s concerns are to make sure that we can address them so that we can get this done.”

Ayotte added that more needs to be done to address terrorism.

“We better ensure we understand what the gaps were. Why did the FBI enclose the investigation on terrorist who committed the horrific attacks in Orlando. And what gaps do we have in our intelligence system and we have to go after ISIS to make sure that we more aggressively reduce their capacity to commit attacks on our country and inspire, I mean this is what happened here, inspire attacks on our country and we can’t lose sight that we have to destroy ISIS,” Ayotte said.

Turning to the British vote to exit the EU, Ayotte said “I think that each country, including our own, we should be able to decide our own destiny. So it was for the people of Great Britain to decide if they wanted to be part of the European Union. I respect their decision just like I hope that every country would respect our decision, our sovereignty, to make our own decisions on how we govern our country.”

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