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Sen. Heinrich pursues new gun controls

Sen. Martin Heinrich at a 2016 press conference at which he and Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, unveiled legislation that would ban people on the federal “no-fly” list from buying guns. (Michael Coleman / Journal)

Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich – a hunter and former National Rifle Association member – is pushing gun control measures that would ban bump stocks and deny those on the federal no-fly list the right to buy firearms.

Today, the New Mexico Democrat today teamed with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., on a bill to prohibit the sale of bump stock devices and other mechanisms which allow semi-automatic firearms to spray bullets much like fully automatic guns.

“There’s no possible defense for anyone owning bump stock devices or any other devices that take a semi-automatic firearm and allow it to be used as an automatic firearm,” Heinrich said in a statement. “We need pragmatic gun law reforms to end mass shootings that are devastating our communities and this is one of them.”

President Trump yesterday vowed to ban bump stocks through an executive order. Some Republicans shot the idea down, questioning the legality of such a move.

“We have the Second Amendment and due process of law for a reason,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., in a statement Monday. “We’re not ditching any Constitutional protections simply because the last person the president talked to today doesn’t like them.”

On Monday, Heinrich also re-introduced a bill that would make it illegal for those on federal aviation no-fly lists to own guns.

Heinrich and moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins introduced a similar bill dubbed “no-fly, no-buy” in the last Congress but it failed. Critics contend the bill would ensnare potential gun buyers who end up on the no-fly list simply because they have the same names as terrorists.

Heinrich’s office this week said “any American denied a purchase under this bill would have the opportunity to have his or her case heard before a federal district court judge within 14 days.”

Heinrich’s office said the No Fly List is among the narrowest subsets of all of the government’s terrorism watch lists, and include the names of those who pose the greatest threat of committing an act of terrorism.

Heinrich’s views on guns will come under close scrutiny as he seeks re-election in the year ahead. With mass shootings looming large on the national agenda, Democrats are demanding stricter controls. But Republicans and Libertarians have been resistant to stricter laws, citing the 2nd Amendment.