Collins’ terrorist watchlist gun ban survives, but how alive is it?

Good morning from Augusta, where we’re watching the debate the compromise gun legislation from U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, after it passed an initial vote on Thursday. But that belies its chances of passage and global and national events are overshadowing Maine politics today.

Great Britain has voted to leave the European Uniona stunning move that made Prime Minister David Cameron resign and plunged global markets into tumult.

Immigration was a big issue in that race, the result of which Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump linked to his own campaign, saying “people do not necessarily want people pouring over their borders,” according to The Guardian.

We’re sorry about your portfolio, but this gives us an opportunity for a great British soundtrack story arc. Here’s the EU’s romantic pitch, followed by empowering sorrow and their defiant realization that everything will (hopefully) be OK.

And Democratic presidential underdog Bernie Sanders said this morning that he’ll vote for Hillary Clinton, although he’s not formally ending his campaign. It might be upsetting to many in Maine, where Democrats voted overwhelmingly for Sanders in the March caucuses, but Clinton was the likely nominee from wire to wire.

Collins’ balancing act can’t get 60 votes on gun legislation

In Maine politics, the day’s biggest news may be the difficulty to get anything done in Congress, as illustrated by Collins’ compromise legislation on guns.

It survived a bid to kill it on Thursday by getting 52 votes in the Senate. Collins hailed that result in a statement, saying she was “encouraged by today’s majority vote.” But Senate rules make it so the amendment will need 60 votes to pass.

Only eight Republicans backed Collins’ bill, and Maine’s senior senator will likely need six more to vote for it to pass it.

Even if that happened, the Republican-led House of Representatives has adjourned until July with no promise to vote on gun bills. All Senate Democrats except for two who were absent voted for the bill, leaving Collins to try to convince her Republican colleagues of its worth.

This is particularly challenging because Collins’ bill is a tough balancing act on a sensitive subject. It has three main provisions:

  • Allow the U.S. Department of Justice to deny gun sales to people on two government terrorist watchlists: The no-fly list or the selectee list, which include 2,700 Americans and 109,000 people worldwide.
  • In an attempt to protect due process, U.S. citizens and holders of green cards could appeal denials.
  • It includes a five-year “look-back” provision that notifies the FBI if someone on the government’s broader central terrorist watch list, which contains information on more than 1 million people, buys a gun.

But there are good reasons for people on the left and right to oppose it, with the American Civil Liberties Union hammering the proposal for its use of an “error-prone and unfair watchlist system” to restrict gun rights.

The National Rifle Association has taken a similar position, calling it “unconstitutional.” Collins has said it protects due process.

After dueling Republican and Democratic proposals on gun control were voted down earlier this week in the Senate, Collins’ bill still represents the best chance for action after this month’s mass shooting in Orlando. But it also represents the difficulty of this issue and our political environment. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

  • The annual marijuana celebration that is Harry’s Hoe Down will be held this weekend in Starks. It’s an event held at the farm of Maine marijuana icon Harry Brown and it’s pretty huge — on Facebook alone, 1,700 people have said they’re coming. Brown says “early birds are arriving in flocks” and another attendee promises “artisan edibiles” (sic) and “dank headychinos for a great morning pick me up.”
  • Gov. Paul LePage will continue his weekly town hall meeting roadshow at Greenville High School on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. — Michael Shepherd

Reading list

Best of Maine’s Craigslist

  • This nice big cat from Bridgton is looking for a new home. He “enjoys catnip, crunchy snacks, and his meals to be on time.” Don’t we all? Here’s his (bonus) soundtrack.
  • An open-minded Waterville wife is seeking a woman to take her husband out on the town. She says he works 70 hours a week to support the family. What a guy! But she says his friends “just want to sit in the house and smoke weed.” This wife wants more for him. You can take him hiking, to a strip club or to bars. However, she says “it would be ideal if you were a stoner but that’s not a big deal.” I wonder how he got those friends. — Michael Shepherd
Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.