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Portman Shifts Toward Support for Ban on Gun Sales to Terror Suspects


Clarification: Sen. Portman had mistakenly thought Feinstein's amendment applied only to the no-fly list, not the broader terrorist-watch list. Separately, he said he supported the Cornyn amendment because he thought it had stronger due process for people who may mistakenly appear on the list. Both amendments included appeals; both failed. This story has been amended.

  Ohio Sen. Rob Portman says he’s ready to support a bill that would ban gun sales to terror suspects. But he seemed unclear in a conference call with reporters today about the scope of a bill he voted against six months ago that would have imposed such a ban.


Portman voted against a bill sponsored by Democrat Dianne Feinstein in December that would have banned gun sales to suspected terrorists. He said he did so because he thought it applied only to the no-fly list as opposed to the bigger terror-watch list, and he wanted to ensure protections for people who could be on the watch list by mistake.

Two reporters noted that the Feinstein’s amendment covered both points. And Portman apologized for misunderstanding that Feinstein's amendment applied to the broader list. He also said he liked the appeals provisions of a separate amendment from Sen. Majority Leader John Cornyn that he voted for. That amendment allowed for a delay of 72 hours to buy a gun while authorities ask a judge to block a transfer if the judge decides someone has or will commit terrorism. 

The bill also included a provision to block funding for so-called sanctuary cities that don't follow immigration laws, and Portman says that troubled Democrats. Now Portman's hoping for a bill both Democrats and Republicans will back.

“I do think it should be broader; it should be a terrorist watch list. I think there should be a way to be able to have a due process to know whether you’re appropriately on that list or not; and that this is an area where we should be able to find bipartisan consensus. 

Cornyn told The Morning Consult this week that if the bill is the same one Feinstein introduced last year, it’s likely to fail. 

M.L. Schultze came to WKSU as news director in July 2007 after 25 years at The Repository in Canton, where she was managing editor for nearly a decade. She’s now the digital editor and an award-winning reporter and analyst who has appeared on NPR, Here and Now and the TakeAway, as well as being a regular panelist on Ideas, the WVIZ public television's reporter roundtable.