Dianne Feinstein: Dems' proposed gun law would have prevented Orlando


Senate Intelligence Committee vice-chairman Dianne Feinstein said Sunday that Democrats' proposed legislation, which aims to keep suspected terrorists from purchasing guns, would have caught Orlando shooter Omar Mateen.

"Omar Mateen would have been picked up by this," she said on CBS "Face the Nation. "...There is a part of our bill that would cover him as well."

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Feinstein said, as other Democrats have argued in the wake of the Orlando shooting that killed 49 people, that gun control is now inextricably tied to national security issues. She countered National Rifle Association President Wayne LaPierre's assertion that the Justice Department doesn't want the new legislation because they prefer to take time to build evidence against potential terrorists.

"I do not believe Mr. LaPierre is correct on this," she told moderator John Dickerson. "But let me say this, John: this is really a national security issue, it isn't a gun control issue."

As for the watch list, Feinstein noted that more than 99 percent of those on the list are not U.S. citizens, but foreign nationals. Those individuals can go through an appeals process if they feel they've been put on the list unfairly, she added.

"Less than a half of one percent are Americans," she said. "It is mainly foreign names given by foreign intelligence agencies, foreign law enforcement officers, and our own."

As for gun legislation proposed by Republicans, Feinstein said the law is not stringent enough to catch suspected terrorists because it does not include the ability to bar a gun sale based on "reasonable suspicion."

"The standard is too high because you can just arrest the person, so that would cut out a lot of people who are probable threats," she said.

Ultimately, Feinstein said, it will be nearly impossible to pass the kind of legislation necessary until lawmakers stop being afraid of the NRA.

"I deeply believe that these weapons of war don't belong on the streets. And I've tried now three times," she said. "The question comes, how deeply indebted are members of the Senate and the House to the National Rifle Association?"

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    Emily Schultheis

    Emily Schultheis is a reporter/editor for CBS News Digital.