Democrat will try to force vote to ban terror suspects from buying guns

A customer shops for a pistol at Freddie Bear Sports sporting goods store on December 17, 2012 in Tinley Park, Illinois.

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A House Democrat filed a petition on Monday to try and force a vote on a bill that would ban people on the government's terror watch list list from buying a gun.

"Mr. Speaker, terrorists shouldn't be able to legally buy guns. However, right now, someone on the FBI's Terrorists Watchlist can go into a gun store and buy a firearm of their choosing - legally," Rep. Mike Thompson, D-California, said on the House floor.

Thompson, the chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, said he filed a petition that would force a vote on a bipartisan bill if it receives at least 218 signatures.

Rep. Peter King, R-New York, authored the bill, which would make sure that anyone on the FBI's Terrorists Watchlist can't walk into a gun store, pass a background check and buy a gun.

President Obama called on Congress in his prime time speech on terrorism Sunday night "to act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun."

"If you agree that terrorists shouldn't be able to have guns, then put your name down in writing and let's have a vote," Thompson said.

Discharge petitions are rarely used, though one was used recently in the House to force a vote to revive the Export-Import Bank's charter.

Thompson's office noted that the legislation was originally crafted in 2007 and endorsed by the Justice Department under President George W. Bush. Both Thompson and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, blasted Republicans for blocking such a measure last week.

"It is unconscionable that a suspected terrorist can enter a store and leave with the gun of his choice," Pelosi said in a statement. "Yet on three occasions last week, Republicans prevented the House from even debating a Republican congressman's legislation to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists."

If all 188 Democrats sign Thompson's petition, they would still need at least 30 Republican signatures in order to force a vote.

Thompson and Pelosi, meanwhile, are hosting a forum tomorrow on the causes, costs and best practices to reduce gun violence.

  • Rebecca Shabad

    Rebecca Shabad is a video reporter for CBS News Digital.