Inhofe Speaks on Senate Floor about Gun-Control Debate, Orlando Terrorist Attack, and CJS Amendment

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today spoke on the Senate floor on the recent terrorist attack in Orlando, the current gun-control debate in Congress, as well as on his amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations bill to close an immigration catch-and-release loophole. 

Senate Floor 6.22.2016
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As prepared for delivery: 


I come to the floor today because I find that I can’t let this past week’s events go by without commenting on claims some of my colleagues have made here on the Senate floor and that the mainstream media have published about the horrific event in Orlando. 

Before we had all the facts as to what happened in Orlando last Sunday, people on the left were blaming Congress, Republicans, all gun owners, and anyone else they could think of for this terrorist attack. The actual person responsible for killing 49 people that day is Omar Mateen. 

By immediately politicizing this act of terrorism, the left has denied the victims, their families and their friends our full attention and care and they have denied the nation a period of mourning for those we lost at the hands of a terrorist who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

Last week, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle participated in a filibuster against gun rights and they have continued to demonize those who still believe in the Constitution and the rights it protects. And I’m not just talking about gun rights, but also the right to due process – the right to be innocent until proven guilty. 

In fact, in their effort to twist this act of terrorism into a need to curtail our constitutional rights, the Washington Post – yes, even the Washington Post – gave some of their arguments “Three out of Four Pinocchios” for the way they falsely twisted information to fit their narrative.

The left was given a chance for the Senate to vote on their gun control proposals, which would not have prevented this terrorist attack from happening, and their proposal ultimately failed to progress in the Senate. Meanwhile, Democrats voted against amendments that would strengthen our guns laws and keep guns out of the hands of terrorists while protecting the right to due process.

Over the past week, you’ve heard my friends on the other side of the aisle say that if you can’t fly you shouldn’t be able to buy a gun. While this may sound good and the media has bought into it, what they seem to forget, and what the media won’t push back on, is that flying is a privilege and gun ownership is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. You cannot take away a constitutionally protected right without notice and a fair and impartial hearing. Denying someone their civil right based on secret lists is unconstitutional and will be struck down by the courts.

Given the irrefutable evidence of Mateen’s motivations and radicalization, many wonder why the Administration and the Democrats are so focused on policies that don’t address the core cause of this horrific act – terrorism and the influence of radical Islam here in America. 

The answer is simple: Focusing on the root cause and Mateen’s motivations will only further expose the fact that the policies of this Administration -- supported without question by the Democrats in Congress – have been a complete failure. 

Time and again the President’s rhetoric on ISIL, terrorism, and their threat to Americans is proven wrong by reality.

In January of 2014, the President referred to ISIL as a “JV squad” and downplayed their threat and influence. Yet, just 4 days before he dismissed ISIL as a minor player in the Middle East they had captured and raised their flag over Fallujah, Iraq where U.S. Marines had one of their bloodiest battles during the war a decade earlier. 

Furthermore, the President failed to recognize the threat posed by the Muslim Brotherhood, created the vacuum in the Middle East that gave rise to ISIL, downplayed Benghazi - blaming it on a video, and said ISIL was ‘contained’ hours before the attack on Paris. 

The threat to our country and our security is increasing – Fort Hood, Boston, San Bernardino and now Orlando. These attacks are not the fault of the west – they are the fault of radical Islam.

Most recently, we’ve heard from the White House that ISIL is retreating, declining and losing territory and funds, but just last week CIA Director John Brennan testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that “our efforts have not reduced [ISIL’s] terrorism capability and global reach.” Furthermore, Brennon went on to say that ISIL “is probably exploring a variety of means for infiltrating operatives into the West, including in refugee flows, smuggling routes, and legitimate methods of travel.” 

This was incredible testimony in light of the Administration’s talking points and should have us all seeking ways to ensure they are not successful. However, policy proposals to combat these threats – extra vetting of refugees, pausing the refugees program, stepping up border protection, and enforcing our immigration laws through visa enforcement – are all ignored by the Administration, Democrats, and their media enablers. They would rather paint us – Republicans – as arms dealers to terrorists and yet remain silent on the President’s deal with Iran, the number one state sponsor of terrorism.

ISIL and similar radical groups seek to extinguish our freedoms and to terrorize, kill and oppress anyone who lives counter to their extreme ideology. No matter how they carry out their act of evil, their mission will always supersede our nation’s laws. We must protect the Constitution, support law-abiding citizens’ right to due process and to bear arms, and focus on the real threat of Islamic terrorists.


Earlier this week, the county commissioners in my home town of Tulsa, Oklahoma, voted to renew a memorandum of understanding with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain their inmates and train local deputies to refer threats or violent criminals to federal authorities.

Entering into a memorandum of understanding has been a routine procedure until last week when it was derailed by illegal immigrant activists – the same type of activists that you see across the country pushing sanctuary policies that protect criminal aliens and allow them to continue committing crimes against our citizens.

Law enforcement across the country take part in this program so that they can do their job of keeping criminals off the streets. However, their efforts are continually frustrated by liberal activists who seek to shield those same criminals from the consequences of their actions. We should stand with our friends in the law enforcement community who work every day to ensure the safety of others.

Whether criminal immigrants are here legally or illegally, it should not be controversial to deny them the privilege of staying in our country and we should remove them from our communities until they are removed from our country. When we refuse to do so, we reward their behavior and give them the opportunity to continue violating our citizens.

In 2014, ICE released over 30,000 criminal aliens from custody and by July of last year, more than 1,800 of them went on to commit over 2,500 new crimes. Instead of deporting people who shouldn’t be here, the Administration released them back onto our streets where they committed new, preventable crimes including assault, sex offenses, kidnappings, and even homicide.

Between 2010 and 2015, we’ve had 135 preventable homicides occur in our communities across the country by criminal aliens that have been released by the Administration. This is unacceptable.

One of the reasons criminal aliens have been released is because of two little-known Supreme Court cases. These cases determined that criminal aliens cannot be detained longer than six months while awaiting deportation. However, there are many factors which can prevent a deportation from taking place within that six month period.

In order to address this issue, I introduced the Keep Our Communities Safe Act in the past two Congresses, and I am introducing it as an amendment to the CJS appropriations bill. This legislation would allow for the Department of Homeland Security to petition the courts and hold a criminally convicted alien for renewable, six month periods until deportation occurs if the Secretary deems the alien would be a threat to national security or the safety of the community, among other reasons.

Some organizations, such as the ACLU, believe this bill amounts to indefinite detention in violation of a criminal’s due process rights. However, in addition to the specified circumstances of continued detention I just mentioned, this bill requires the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to recertify that a person is a threat every 6 months. Furthermore, an alien can submit evidence for a review of his detention and will still have access to our courts, giving judges a say in the process.

I ask my colleagues to join me in calling for a vote on this amendment that will help prevent crimes and will keep our communities safe.