GOP congressman: ‘This isn’t about guns’

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Rep. Sean Duffy, a Wisconsin Republican, said Thursday that the House Democrats' decision to stage a sit-in protest on Capitol Hill "isn't about guns" and engaged in a passionate back-and-forth over gun control and terrorism with CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day."

WASHINGTON– Rep. Sean Duffy, a Wisconsin Republican, said Thursday that the House Democrats’ decision to stage a sit-in protest on Capitol Hill “isn’t about guns” and engaged in a passionate back-and-forth over gun control and terrorism with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day.”

Duffy rebuked House Democrats, who are demanding a vote on legislation that would prevent suspects on the no-fly list from purchasing firearms, saying the proposal was ineffective and that the focus should be on terrorism, not gun control.

“How does this list work? How do you get off it?” Duffy said, criticizing Democrats’ proposal and noting people had been mistakenly put on the list. “That’s a reasonable conversation.”

But Cuomo pressed Duffy on House Republicans’ unwillingness to take up either gun control legislation or craft a new agreement that would clarify the U.S. military mission against terrorist organizations such as ISIS, which claims to have inspired the recent Orlando attack that sparked momentum behind the gun control push.

“But congressman, you just made a good point. You’re not having that conversation,” Cuomo said, pointing to House Republicans’ decision to adjourn until July 5 in response to the sit-in.

“We’re talking about terrorism right now. This isn’t about guns,” Duffy said. “We should have a sit-in at the White House to say, ‘You know what, President Obama? The inspiration for Orlando and San Bernardino — we want you to address it. We want you to take action.’ And he refuses to do it.”

And Duffy rejected Democrats’ effort to link the Orlando attack to the push for gun control.

“Did (the Orlando killer) pledge allegiance to the (National Rifle Association) or ISIS? So why the hell are we talking about the NRA? Let’s deal with the real threat,” he said.

“I’m not talking about the NRA,” Cuomo said.

“But you’re talking about guns,” Duffy shot back.

“I don’t see those two things as the same,” Cuomo said. “If you want to have a sit-in at the White House, go there, brother. Go there and demand action. I don’t know what you’re asking for that isn’t done right now. The generals do say they could take out ISIS … they’re asking for boots on the ground. And you’re part of a Congress that won’t even have a vote on the authorization for use of military force against ISIS. What about that?”

Duffy said that the current authorization for troops in Iraq — passed during the Bush administration — gave the President all the authority necessary to conduct the mission against ISIS, and that a subsequent authorization measure, proposed by Obama, was rejected because House Republicans’ considered it too “weak.”

“This President’s job is to defeat this radical group and he refuses to do it, and Democrats are supporting his unwillingness to actually engage and win the fight,” Duffy said. “This is a conversation about terrorism and you don’t hear anyone on the House floor talking about how we defeat the threat of rising terrorism. They’ve been wanting to talk about guns for decades and they’re trying to use this issue to talk about guns.”

By David Wright