How can the U.S. detect, thwart or limit "lone wolf" attacks?

A panel of security experts on Sunday discussed the best ways to combat homegrown terrorism like the recent mass shooting in Orlando, noting that community involvement and stricter gun control measures could help law enforcement detect these plots in advance.

Michael Morell, a former deputy CIA director and CBS News contributor, said it's very difficult for intelligence officials to get ahead of the "lone wolf" attackers, like Orlando shooter Omar Mateen.

"I think we are going to find out that he was a lone wolf; self-radicalized, talked to not very many people about his views," Morell said. "It's very difficult for intelligence... to disrupt lone wolves. We really need the help of the community, of the family and friends, to give us warnings, right, about these types of people."

He added that increased surveillance on the Muslim community, as presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump has suggested, would have the opposite effect.

"When you start talking about broad surveillance against Muslims, when you start talking about going into mosques, when you start talking about shutting down mosques, you make it more difficult for the Muslim community to want to reach out and have a relationship with law enforcement," he said.

Fran Townsend, a former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush, said the link between guns and terrorism in the U.S. is becoming clearer.

"We've seen San Bernardino and we've seen Orlando," she said. "I'm concerned that we're going to see more of these types of attacks -- and I think that as we look at going forward, we've got to look at how can we reduce the lethality of these attacks, how can we interrupt the cycle of violence."

She said part of that, though not a catch-all solution, would be looking at stricter controls on assault weapons and large ammunition clips.

"One of the things we've got to consider, among many things, is whether or not the ban on assault weapons, AR-15s, the larger-size ammunition clips, is a piece to a larger puzzle," she said. "It won't stop it... it's not the only answer, but reducing the lethality is important and we ought to look at it."

  • Emily Schultheis

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