Conner Eldridge, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, called Thursday (June 16) for creating a system banning terrorists or suspected terrorists from buying firearms or explosives.
The call came four days after a gunman who claimed sympathy for the Islamic State killed 49 people in an Orlando gay night club. The gunman twice had been investigated by the FBI and placed on a terrorist watch list for almost a year.
In a press release, Eldridge called on his opponent, U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., “to put politics aside and stand up for the security and safety of the American people. Surely we can all agree that we should both keep guns away from those that may carry out an attack and continue to stand up for the rights of law-abiding Arkansans and others to protect themselves and their families.”
In an interview, Eldridge said, “When you run for the Senate, you commit to being a leader, or at least I think you should. And so that means being clear with voters about where you stand on issues that are important, and having an intellectually honest dialogue about what we ought to do.”
Drawing from his experience as a U.S. attorney, Eldridge, who said he has a concealed carry permit, said a system is needed to keep known or suspected terrorists under investigation by the FBI from buying weapons. He said that could be done without infringing on people’s Second Amendment rights and said the requirement would not amount to people being considered guilty until proven innocent.
“There is a legal standard and there is a standard that applies to those cases,” he said. “I do not support any sort of subjective, whimsical kind of an effort like that. That is not what’s being discussed. What I do support is a system with due process incorporated into it, but a system whereby someone like this individual and like others that I have come across in my career who are under investigation who we have reasonable suspicion to believe are terrorists or are contemplating an act of terror, that law enforcement needs the tools to stop that purchase.”
Congress is considering various gun control measures that are expected to fail in votes next week, according to Politico.
Boozman’s campaign manager, Chris Caldwell, said Boozman is reviewing one of them, a proposal by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. That proposal would give authorities three days to prove probable cause for rejecting a gun sale to a suspected terrorist. He said Boozman is considering every possibility to ensure Americans’ constitutional rights are protected.
“What’s being thoughtfully considered is, how do we ensure Americans’ constitutional rights are protected while keeping the homeland safe?” he said. “At the end of the day, this is about the fight against ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism and the failed policies that have occurred in this battle.”
He said in an email that Eldridge is politicizing the issue.
“Senator Boozman and his colleagues have been diligently gathering information on the Orlando attack to respond in a way that puts us on a path that protects the rights of law-abiding American citizens while keeping weapons out of the hands of terrorists. Unfortunately, it appears that scoring cheap political points is all our opponent hopes to do with this.”
Frank Gilbert, the Libertarian candidate for Senate, said, “Obviously, you need to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists. You need to protect the American people. And the only difference that Conner and I might have is that I would like to use the Constitution of the United States as a guideline of how to do that. In school, we don’t punish a whole class because one child has misbehaved, and it is just as absurd on a much grander scale to punish every American citizen for the acts of one crazy man.”