Georgians' post-Orlando policy suggestions span the political gamut

From every politician there seems to be a different idea for how the government and law enforcement should respond in the aftermath of last weekend's brutal Orlando attacks.

There's the fundamental question of whether new controls on purchasing firearms would help, and Democrats filibustered on the Senate floor for nearly 15 hours yesterday in order to force votes on the issue. (Republican leaders in the chamber seemingly agreed to hold several votes in the days ahead, including on an NRA-backed proposal.)

Democrat Jim Barksdale, the Atlanta investment manager challenging Johnny Isakson in November's Senate race, said he backs expanding background checks on all gun purchases and cited a recent Public Policy Polling survey that said 87 percent of Georgians were on the same page:

"As a gun owner myself, I embrace the 2nd Amendment Rights we Americans enjoy as individuals. I do believe that we need to work together to keep our citizens safe and that means keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill, and suspected terrorists. Terrorism is real and suspected terrorists should not be able to buy guns to kill Americans," Barksdale said in a statement. 

Per Politico, one of the Democratic proposals expected to see a vote in the Senate is a bit narrower and would require background checks for firearms sold over the internet and at gun shows.

Many Republicans on Capitol Hill, however, say firearms are not the proper focus.

"The problem is the individual doing the crime, not the tool they use," said Cassville Republican Barry Loudermilk, who instead advocated for the Senate to move on House-passed bills related to the country's policy for admitting refugees and bolstering training for local anti-terrorism efforts.

Some Georgians in Washington have emphasized counterterrorism-focused approaches instead.

Isakson said Monday that it was time to declare a “no holds barred” war against Islamic terrorism amid news that the Orlando gunman pledged allegiance to the Islamic State:

“There’s only one thing you can do with people who will kill themselves to kill you, burn you in a cage on the town square or blow themselves up,” Isakson said. “We’ve got to kill them first. That ought to be our mantra.”

Those views extended across the aisle to at least one Democrat, Atlanta U.S. Rep. David Scott, who said Tuesday that President Barack Obama needs to “stop pussyfooting around, get a sense of urgency and declare war” on radical Islamic terror.

House Republicans have focused their legislative response to Orlando so far on advancing a long-delayed mental health bill, but the measure had to be watered down in order to attract support from both sides of the aisle.

Then there's Lawrenceville Republican Rob Woodall, who warned about rushing to any conclusions too quickly:

"This is the right time to mourn and this is the right time to remember all the things that unite us as a nation instead of divide us as a nation, but I do not believe we're going to get rushed to a second amendment conclusion. What I have learned from this is that folks don't even understand the way the watch lists and the background checks work today. Leaving this debate with a fuller understanding of those things I think is going to make it easier to come together around a solution that America's on board with." 

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that...