On Sunday’s segment of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein said that the main focus after the Orlando mass shooting is not gun control.
John Dickerson referred to comments made by the National Rifle Association’s executive vice president Wayne LaPierre about suspects on watch lists who want to purchase guns.
LaPierre said that if a suspect on a watch list were to try to buy a gun, there would be a “ping” sent to the federal government. The federal government would then analyze whether the purchase was worth stopping. LaPierre also said that there were times that law enforcement would let a purchase occur in order to watch and build a case around the suspect. He cited FBI director James Comey as not wanting to fully ban suspects on watch lists from purchasing guns as it would interrupt some criminal investigations.
Feinstein said that she did not agree with LaPierre’s statements. In fact, she said that the the Orlando attack highlights a “national security issue,” rather than a gun-control issue.
The senator is currently working on legislation that will allow the Attorney General to deny a gun sale if “reasonable suspicion” surrounds a potential buyer’s background check. Such legislation may have led to the Orlando shooter’s arrest. Feinstein said that the legislation also includes an appeals process. While the shooter was not on a list at the time of his gun purchase, Feinstein said that the bill included a provision that would also asses those who had been under investigation at any given point in time.
Feintstein said that the watch list incorporated the No Fly list, the Selectee list, and other similar lists. Less than 1% of the names on the watch list were American, meaning that the watch list attempts to weed out foreign threats to the United States as well as domestic. The foreign names on the list were provided by foreign intelligence, foreign law enforcement, and America’s own intelligence.
To speak on the appeals process, Dickerson brought in some criticism of the watch list. There is a lot of confusion regarding how one can get on and off of the list. Others are saying that the list presents a threat to constitutional due process.
Feinstein said that there is an administrative appeal where a concerned citizen can take their case to a court. While some worry about the way names are chosen, there is an outline accounting for due process of the law after a name is already placed on the list. When pressed further, Feinstein restated that the vast majority of the people on the list were foreigners, meaning that “there’s reason for them to be suspect.” While the resulting “ping” may not be based on probable cause, reasonable suspicion is strong enough for the federal government to deny a gun purchase.
When asked about the reinstitution of the assault weapons ban, the senator said that she truly believes “that these weapons of war don’t belong on the street” and that Democratic senators who took the Senate floor last week made a very clear point for bringing it back. Feinstein said that the larger issue was the degree of attachment certain members had to the NRA.