Senator Ernst Votes to Prevent Terrorists from Obtaining Weapons

Renews Call for Aggressive Efforts to Defeat and Destroy ISIS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard and member of the Senate committees on Armed Services, and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, today voted to prevent terrorists from obtaining weapons, and renewed her call for more aggressive efforts to defeat and destroy ISIS.

The Iowa Senator supported the Cornyn Amendment, which prevents suspected terrorists from obtaining a gun for up to three business days, during which time the FBI is able to investigate the individual, confirm or rule out the identity and suspected nexus to terrorism of the individual, and determine whether to file an emergency petition in court to prevent the gun transfer. This process ensures that law-abiding Americans’ Second Amendment and constitutional due process rights are protected.

Unlike the Feinstein Amendment, the Cornyn Amendment includes due process protections – notice and an opportunity to be heard in a court of law – before the U.S. Government can deny an individual’s Second Amendment right. This is particularly important because of the widely reported flaws with the numerous terrorist watch lists – including the no-fly list – kept by the U.S. Government that may wrongfully implicate innocent American citizens. For example, a 2007 report by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Inspector General (OIG) concluded that roughly 38% of records tested “continued to contain errors or inconsistencies that were not identified through the Terrorist Screening Center’s quality assurance efforts.

In addition, Senator Ernst supported the Grassley Amendment, which would improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) without unlawfully infringing on law-abiding U.S. citizen’s Second Amendment rights.

Senator Ernst issued the following statement on today’s votes:

“The horrific attack in Orlando made clear that we must work harder and do more to defeat terrorism here at home and around the globe.

“The numerous terrorist watch lists kept by the U.S. Government, including the no-fly list, are flawed. That is why I support an effective solution to prevent terrorists from obtaining a gun without violating innocent Americans’ constitutional rights. In addition, I support Senator Grassley’s measure to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System without unlawfully infringing on law-abiding U.S. citizen’s Second Amendment rights.

“However, that is not enough. Laws will not deter terrorists from pledging allegiance to radical Islamic groups and harming Americans. In response to this tragedy, we must renew our resolve to combat terrorism.

“The FBI has said that ISIS is present in all 50 states, and we saw a tragic example of that in Florida. President Obama must develop a comprehensive strategy to completely defeat ISIS that includes contributions by all members of the U.S.-led coalition to full-spectrum military, diplomatic, and development operations. We must get serious about finding ways to improve our efforts to counter violent extremism, defeat ISIS, and end the humanitarian crisis affecting the region and the world. We simply cannot afford to sit back and wait for the next attack to take place.”


  • The Washington Post last year noted that "The list is itself almost necessarily a slippery slope.”:  “The San Bernardino attack also demonstrated the risk of over-inclusion. At least one news outlet confused the male shooter -- Syed Rizwan Farook -- with his brother, Syed Raheel Farook. ‘They have the same name except for the middle name,’ Sparapani pointed out, meaning that including a ‘Syed Farook’ on the list might block either from flying. (The shooter's brother is a decorated Navy veteran.) There's also the challenge of converting Arabic names into English writing. Consider the former leader of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi. Or Qaddafi. Or Gadhafi. Do you put all three names on the list? Get the letters wrong, and some people will be banned who shouldn't be...The list is itself almost necessarily a slippery slope."

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