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Bipartisan gun bill co-sponsored by Heitkamp survives test vote but still needs more GOP support

BISMARCK -- A bipartisan gun control bill co-sponsored by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., survived its first vote Thursday but still needs additional support from Republicans to move forward. Senators voted 52-46 to defeat Senate Majority Leader Mit...

Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) speaks next to Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) at a news conference with a bipartisan group of senators on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., to unveil a compromise proposal on gun control measures, June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) speaks next to Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) at a news conference with a bipartisan group of senators on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., to unveil a compromise proposal on gun control measures, June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

BISMARCK - A bipartisan gun control bill co-sponsored by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., survived its first vote Thursday but still needs additional support from Republicans to move forward.

Senators voted 52-46 to defeat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's motion to table the compromise bill introduced earlier this week by fellow Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

That keeps the bill in play and allows supporters to continue to try to build consensus, Heitkamp said. The vote came just a few days after the Senate failed to advance four gun measures after last week's mass shooting in Orlando.

"Albeit not a giant step, it certainly is a step in the right direction," Heitkamp said by phone, adding, "We shouldn't stop the dialogue."

The bill would prevent about 109,000 people on the government's no-fly list and so-called "selectee list" from legally purchasing guns or explosives from licensed dealers. Those blocked from buying firearms could appeal in federal court to have their names removed from the lists, and if they're successful, would be awarded attorneys' fees.

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"The important thing to think about is how do you balance the Second Amendment right (to bear arms) with a public safety mandate?" Heitkamp said.

Law enforcement also would be notified if anyone who's been entered into the broader Terrorist Screening Database within the previous five years tries to buy a gun or explosives.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., who has raised concerns about the due process aspect of the Collins bill, voted to table it.

The bill needs 60 votes to pass the Senate. The 52 votes on Thursday included eight Republicans, and it would have been 54 votes if not for two absent members, Heitkamp said.

She said the next step is to discuss modifications that can help the bill advance.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the bill Thursday in the House of Representatives.

Related Topics: HEIDI HEITKAMP
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