Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBottom line Voters need to feel the benefit, not just hear the message Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama MORE (D-Nev.) slammed Republicans Friday, suggesting they are prioritizing their support for the National Rifle Association (NRA) at the expense of national security.
“Republicans care more about kowtowing to the NRA than preventing terrorists from legally buying assault rifles and explosives like the ones used in the Paris attacks here in America," Reid said in a statement. “Shockingly, Republicans continue to preserve a loophole that allows FBI terror suspects to buy guns and explosives legally, without background checks."
Jennifer Baker, a spokeswoman for the NRA, said that it is "appalling that anti-gun politicians are exploiting the Paris terrorist attacks to push their gun-control agenda and distract from President Obama’s failed foreign policy."
"The NRA does not want terrorists or dangerous people to have firearms, any suggestion otherwise is offensive and wrong," she added. "The NRA’s only objective is to ensure that Americans who are wrongly on the list are afforded their constitutional right to due process."
Reid's remarks come as Democrats are doubling down on legislation from Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinBiden administration seeks review of Trump-era approval of water pipeline What's that you smell in the Supreme Court? New variant raises questions about air travel mandates MORE (D-Calif.) that would close a so-called "terrorist loophole" by blocking people on the terrorist watch list from buying firearms.
Democrats are focusing on the proposal, which doesn't have a Republican supporter in the Senate, as well as a push to bolster the Visa Waiver Program in the wake of the Paris attacks.
They point to a Government Accountability Office report that found members of terrorist groups aren't explicitly prohibited from owning guns or explosives under current federal law.
Separately, The Washington Post, citing a GAO report, found that between 2004 and 2014 suspected terrorists were successfully able to purchase a gun more than 2,000 times.
Reid on Friday called on Republicans to "immediately close the loophole that allows terrorists to legally buy assault rifles and explosives right here in America.”
Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer tees up key Thursday vote on debt deal House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE (R-Ky.) was asked about the issue earlier this week but he said that he wasn't "familiar with the legislation. "So I'll pass on it."
Asked if he would support closing the loophole, Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainDole to lie in state in Capitol Rotunda Bob Dole: A great leader of the 'Greatest Generation' The bully who pulls the levers of Trump's mind never learns MORE (R-Ariz.), who chairs the Armed Services Committee, told reporters on Thursday "I don't know. I have to look at it. I have not even heard about that."
Reid's remarks on Friday come after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) touched on the same issue Thursday.
"Peter King, Republican Congressman, has a very important piece of legislation that would stop the sale of weapons to people who are on the terrorist-watch list. So averse are our colleagues to touching anything that has to do with guns. Hopefully, they will take up this bill because if we want to make the American people safer, that is one place we can start," she told reporters.
- This story was updated at 4:25 p.m.