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Clinton urges Sanders to "flip-flop" on more gun laws

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton hailed the news that her opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, switched his position on a law that protects gun manufacturers and sellers from liability after guns are used in crimes, but is keeping up the pressure on Sanders to support more gun-control measures.

"I am pleased that Senator Sanders has flip-flopped on legal immunity for gun makers and sellers. Now I hope he will also join members of Congress to change what's called the 'Charleston loophole' that enabled the killer in Charleston to get the gun that he used to murder nine people in bible study at Mother Emanuel Church," Clinton said in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday. "That's something else Senator Sanders has supported that he needs to change, so now I'm calling on him to also flip flop in the right direction and sign onto legislation to change the Charleston loophole."

Clinton was referring to the fact that an FBI background check should have denied Dylann Roof the gun he purchased before killing nine parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in June. The original version of the 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act included a 10-day waiting period, the final version of the bill requires just three days of waiting.

Sanders did not support the final version of the Brady Bill, but he did vote for an amendment that would have required instant criminal background checks within five years of enactment, according to a Washington Post fact check.

Clinton has been calling on Sanders to change course on his support for 2005 legislation that protected gun manufacturers and sellers from liability. On Saturday, the Vermont senator threw his support behind legislation that would amend that law but will be introducing an amendment to protect small, "non-negligent" "mom and pop" gun shops.

Asked about her own evolution on Second Amendment issues - including a onetime support for a 25-percent tax on guns - Clinton said, "I do support the Second Amendment. That has always been understood."

"I just believe that like any amendment to our Constitution, there are reasonable steps that need to be taken," she said. "We have reasonable restrictions on certain kinds of speech or certain forms of assembly and for goodness sakes, we ought to be smart enough and do so consistent with the Constitution to have more gun safety measures to try to save some of the 33,000 lives that we lose to gun violence every single year."

Clinton also weighed in on the news about a prisoner exchange with Iran to free several Americans and the crisis over lead-tainted drinking water in Flint, Michigan.

She was critical of Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio for saying President Obama would cut a deal with anyone who takes an American hostage, calling it "typical political rhetoric."

"Number one, we always try to get Americans back who are unjustly held. I certainly did when I was secretary of state and when I was a senator I advocated for the Bush administration to do the same for people who had been unlawfully held in foreign countries," she said.

"The real issue here is if you are committed to making the world safer and to show strong American leadership, you have to engage in patient, persistent diplomacy with people who are not your friends," Clinton added. "They are on the other side of a lot of the issues and values that you hold very dear and that is certainly true for the United States."

Clinton also said she "deeply" regrets that Robert Levinson, a former CIA contractor who disappeared in Iran 2007, was not part of the deal.

"I hope and expect that the Iranians will continue to be pressed very, very hard to give up any information they have and if possible to return Bob Levinson to his home and family," Clinton said.

On the Flint crisis, Clinton appeared to claim credit for the fact that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder asked for federal help to deal with the crisis, saying it happened within two hours of her publicly calling for him to do so.

"I don't want to get caught up in the political back and forth here. I want to help the people of Flint and I particularly want a comprehensive health analysis of what has happened to these children," Clinton said. "Whatever it takes for Michigan and the federal government to come together...we now have to fix the problem and help these kids and especially their health and education development probably for years to come."

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.