Clinton: Now That 'Terrorists Use These Assault Weapons, That Has to Be Part of the Debate'

Susan Jones | June 13, 2016 | 10:53am EDT
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Law enforcement officials confer near the Pulse Orlando nightclub before sunrise Monday, June 13, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. Pulse Orlando was the scene of a mass fatal shooting early Sunday morning. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

( - "Now that we're seeing terrorists use these assault weapons, that has to be part of the debate," Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday.

She faulted Republicans for refusing to prevent people who end up on the government's secretive no-fly list from buying guns. "That's the kind of thing that we now have to take a look at and get serious," she said.

And Clinton said one of the lessons to be learned from the terror attack in Orlando is that "what we are doing is going to have to be enhanced." She said she supports passing gun laws and regulations that can "help keep people safe."

Clinton began her telephone interview with a call for unity and statesmanship:

"This is a moment for Republicans, Democrats and Independents to work together as one team -- the American team. And it's a time for statesmanship, not partisanship. I think that our fellow citizens expect that, and it's a proud part of our history and what makes us exceptional.

"I remember we all came together as one nation after 9-11, and we should recapture that spirit. You know, let's have a very clear, rational discussion about what we do right and what we can improve on and how we're going to protect Americans both from the threats of terrorism and ISIS; and how we're going to defeat ISIS and how we're going to save people's lives from the, you know, epidemic of gun violence.

"Now that we're seeing terrorists use these assault weapons, that has to be part of the debate."

MSNBC's Willie Geist asked Clinton what she would do about somebody like Omar Mateen, the American citizen born to Afghan parents, who apparently was induced to commit mass murder at the urging of Islamic State propaganda.

"What policies would you put in place as president, working with Republicans as you've said, to stop someone like that, a so-called lone wolf?" Geist asked Clinton:

"Well, I think we also know that he was interviewed three times by the FBI. And...I'm not going to second guess that," Clinton said. "Everything looks obvious in hindsight.

"We're going to have to really examine that and find out, you know, what we can do to improve our process, because the fact that he was under periodic FBI surveillance and still able to commit this horrific act of terror and this hate crime, we've got to recognize that what we are doing is going to have to be enhanced.

"If someone comes to the attention of the FBI, we may have to make sure that person is in some kind of database so that local law enforcement can keep an eye on them as well. And I still am just totally bewildered by the Republican Congress's refusal to block suspected terrorists from buying guns who are on the no-fly list. And you know that's the kind of thing that we now have to take a look at and get serious.

"So there will be lessons to be learned from this, Willie, and we've got to really be as focused and disciplined as possible in getting the resources, getting whatever legal or regulatory laws that can help our law enforcement help keep people safe, passed and change.

And then as a nation, get united behind this, don't let politics divide us. This is a national threat."

Clinton also said she would support stronger measures to track online communications that may indicate someone is becoming self-radicalized:

"I've been calling for that for some time now. We've got to tackle this problem of self-radicalization. I would set up a team dedicated to detecting and preventing lone wolf attacks, and that will mean providing more resources, creating more integration of information among and between all of our law enforcement agencies, strengthening our communications and working with our tech companies to prevent online radicalization."

In several recent cases, including the San Bernardino terror attack, the encryption of electronic devices has frustrated federal investigators, pitting national security against privacy concerns.

"We've got to give law enforcement the tools they need while also staying true to who we are," Clinton said. "And that requires rooting out radicalization in a strong and smart way, not turning on one another, not being divisive -- coming together, denying jihadists virtual territory, just as we work to deny them actual territory -- contest online space, including websites and chat rooms where jihadists communicate and then do a better job of coordinating and keep hitting this threat at its source, in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and across the arc of instability."

Clinton warned against playing into ISIS's hands: "Part of their recrutiment strategy is to convince would-be recruits that there is a clash of civiliations, so declaring war on Islam or turning aginst the Muslim American community is not only wrong, it's counterproductive and dangerous."

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