Why isn’t the Republican proposal good enough for Democratic leaders? “It lets the horse out of the barn. You get a gun and then after 72 hours, you know, the government can say you shouldn’t get one,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York told me at a press conference on December 8. “What happens in those 72 hours if you buy the gun and within 24 hours you create the kind of mayhem we saw in San Bernardino? It makes no sense.”
What really makes no sense is Schumer’s statement. The claim that the Republican bill would allow a suspected terrorist to walk out of a store with a gun is simply false. In fact, the transfer is blocked during the 72 hours the investigation may take place, and the sale will be prohibited if the government can show probable cause to a judge.
A Schumer aide later clarified that the New York senator was trying to make a different point. “All an attorney on behalf of a purchaser has to do is delay the injunction for 72 hours, which is incredibly easy to do given the slow pace of our judicial system. Then the sale goes through – that’s the point he was making,” Schumer aide Matt House wrote in an email.
“That’s not what Sen. Schumer said. He falsely claimed that under the Cornyn proposal, a known or suspected terrorist would be able to purchase a gun right away, then potentially have it taken away,” a Cornyn aide replied. “Under Sen. Cornyn’s proposal a known or suspected terrorist would be blocked from purchasing a firearm while the Justice Department investigates. And under the Cornyn proposal, an attorney for the purchaser has no ability to delay the government from showing probable cause in an emergency court proceeding.”