Sanders: Gun control no "magic formula" for terrorism

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said Sunday that no one believes expanded gun control is "a magic formula" to prevent future terror attacks in the U.S., but he still supports several provisions to try to keep guns away from people who should not have them.

Can we defeat terror attacks with gun control?

In an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation," Sanders talked about his vision for the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and called for tougher screening policies in the wake of the shooting in San Bernardino, California. Moderator John Dickerson asked why, unlike many Democrats, he did not include gun control in that list.

"I was just at a press conference the other day talking about the need for increased gun control. I don't think anybody believes it's a magic formula. Clearly, though, there is an obvious common-sense consensus in this country that guns should not be falling into the hands of people who should not be having them," Sanders said.

He supports Democratic legislation to bar people on the no-fly list from owning guns - which failed in a Senate vote last Thursday - and said the U.S. should expand instant background checks. Sanders also advocates ending a loophole that allows people to buy certain guns at gun shows without passing a background check, banning assault weapons, and preventing people from legally buying guns and passing them onto criminals.

In addition to measures that apply to gun ownership directly, Sanders called for a "revolution in mental health" to make sure that people who are suicidal or homicidal are able to get help.

Sanders defended his support for a 2005 bill that granted legal immunity to gun manufacturers.

"I think the votes that I have cast over the last 25 years have been strong votes for protecting the American people from gun violence. That one particular vote there were things in it that made sense to me, there were things that didn't make sense to me and I've said many times I'd be willing to rethink that piece of legislation and make it more effective," he said.

"If a gun manufacturer understands and knows that the product he is selling to a community is really getting out to criminal elements that gun manufacturer should be held liable for what the company is doing," he added. "If a small gun shop owner in the state of Vermont sells a product, a gun, legally to somebody else who then goes out and does something crazy, do I think that small gun shop owner should be held liable for legally selling the product? No, I don't."

Bernie Sanders on fight against ISIS: “We have got to learn the lessons from Iraq”

As for the broader fight against ISIS, Sanders reiterated his belief that the U.S. must "be as aggressive as we can" to destroy the group but argued that only Muslim nations should supply the troops on the ground. The proper role for the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia, Iran and other countries is to support them.

"It is the Muslim nations that are fighting for the soul of Islam who have got to lead the effort in crushing ISIS," he said.

In the United States, Sanders said, "We have got to do everything that we can to protect the American people. That's a no-brainer, and that means much tougher screening polices than we have right now."

He agreed with a recommendation by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to place more U.S. agents in other countries around the world. And he said the country needs "much, much better work not only in our intelligence efforts but in coordinating international intelligence."

"I think clearly Paris was an intelligence failure and we need to be tapping the intelligence information that is being ascertained from countries all over the world," he said, referring to the terror attacks last month that left 130 people dead.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for