TAMPA (FOX 13) - It seems straight forward: suspected terrorists on the no fly list shouldn't be allowed to purchase a firearm. In the wake of the Orlando massacre, politicians on both sides of the aisle seem to agree, in principle.
Yet time and time again, so-called "no fly, no buy" bills have failed in congress because when it comes down to it: the terrorist watch lists themselves are anything but straightforward.
"The issue with the terror watch lists is an individual never has due process and that's the fallibility of the simple proposal of 'no fly, no buy,'" U.S. Representative David Jolly said on Friday.
There are two main terror watch lists. The Terrorist Identities Datamark Environment (TIDE) is managed by the Department of Homeland Security while the FBI oversees the Terrorist Screening Database. The no fly list is a subset of the FBI watch list. According to testimony provided by Terrorist Screening Center director Chris Piehota during a 2014 congressional probe, there were 64,000 suspected terrorists on the no fly list.
The problem is, not everyone on the list deserves to be there.
The FBI's guidelines for identifying potential terrorists are murky and include phrases like "reasonable suspicion". As a result, a number of people have been either mistakenly -or maliciously- added to the no fly list including senators. Ted Kennedy famously found himself on it in 2004. Children, reporters and even Tampa radio personality Jack Harris have been on it. Ironically, Harris is the voice of the announcements at Tampa International Airport.
"I was on the no fly list shortly after 9-11 and I was on there for quite some time which made it a pain when you wanted to fly somewhere," Harris said on his radio show on 970 WFLA Monday morning. "I have no idea why I was on the no-fly list and no one could explain it to me."
Harris later said he believes airline staff were instrumental in having him removed from the list, but wasn't told exactly how the problem was resolved.
Representative Jolly says the lack of transparency in the terror watch lists is exactly why he's voted down more than a dozen "no fly, no buy" bills in the past. He's now proposing his own bill, which would require two key elements: notification and a hearing.
Jolly's bill which he's currently circulating through congress, would require anyone denied purchasing a firearm because they are on a terror watch list be notified of their status within 10 days. That person would then be granted a hearing in front of a federal judge within 30 days. The government would have to show "by a preponderance of the evidence that the individual should be on the watch list and prohibited from purchasing a firearm." The individual would be allowed to see all unclassified evidence presented against them.
Jolly says he's hoping to work with republicans and democrats to create a bill that protects everyone.