Ohio’s U.S. senators cast their votes on gun control

Ohio’s senators both say they don’t want terrorists to have access to guns. But on Monday night, it became clear that the two lawmakers have vastly different views of how to do that.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, both voted for their respective party’s alternative to limiting terrorist access to guns, with Brown supporting an amendment introduced by Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California and Portman supporting an alternative by Republican John Cornyn of Texas.

The procedural votes were the first legislative reaction to the killing of 49 people in an Orlando night club more than a week ago.

The Feinstein amendment would bar the sale of guns to anyone that the attorney general has a “reasonable belief” would use the gun for acts of terrorism. It failed 47-53. Under Cornyn’s amendment, the attorney general could block the sale for up to three days while the court reviews the sale and determines whether it is appropriate. That amendment failed 53-47, failing to receive the 60 votes needed to pass.

The votes were nearly identical to votes made in December – that time, after two ISIS sympathizers killed 14 in San Bernardino, Calif. While a few senators crossed the aisle, very few crossed party lines to vote for the other party’s alternative – a signal of how wide the chasm over gun control is, and how the reaction to such mass shootings has created a nearly ritualistic reaction by both lawmakers and the public.

In a statement, Portman said he supported the Cornyn proposal because he believed it gave people more due process if they were mistakenly labeled suspected terrorists. He said he also liked a provision in that plan that would allow law enforcement to arrest terror suspects were they caught trying to buy weapons.

“There is a consensus that we should stop suspected terrorists from buying guns, and a consensus that every American should receive due process if they are mistakenly placed on a government watch list,” he said.

“We cannot look people in the eye and say we are doing what it takes to keep Americans safe from homegrown terror unless we are finally willing to pass commonsense laws to keep weapons of war out of the hands of terrorists and violent criminals,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who cosponsored the Feinstein amendment. “It is commonsense that if the FBI decides someone is too dangerous to get on an airplane, they are too dangerous to buy an assault rifle.”

The senators also voted along party lines on two amendments aimed at tweaking the background check system. Both of those amendments failed as well.

Portman’s Senate opponent, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, said Portman demonstrated “an astounding lack of courage” in his failure to vote on Democratic measures. “He has failed this test of leadership,” Strickland said.

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