(CNSNews.com) - Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Sunday refused to say how many people are on the terror watch list, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a member of the intelligence committee, gave a hint on Monday.
At a news conference, Feinstein mentioned numbers as she criticized Republicans for failing to pass her amendment, which would have barred people on the government's consolidated terror watch list from buying guns.
"Today we couldn't even agree to prevent known and suspected terrorists from buying guns," Feinstein told a news conference. She noted that a measure sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) would bar only some people -- those on the No-Fly and Selectee Lists -- from buying guns.
Those lists, which are derived from the consolidated terror watch list, are "very narrow," Feinstein said. Her bill would bar everyone on the much broader consolidated terror watch list from buying weapons, unless they successfully appealed the no-sale decision.
“It’s impossible to tell how many people with ties to terrorism wouldn’t be covered by the Collins amendment," Feinstein said. "If we focus only on the No-Fly and Selectee lists, we ignore nearly 900,000 foreign nationals on the terrorist watch list who can legally purchase guns.
“For example, 20 million on the Visa Waiver Program alone can come from a European country with no visa into this country and be able to buy guns.
“Also, we ignore around 2,300 U.S. persons determined by the FBI to be known or suspected terrorists."
The government does not say how many people are on the No-Fly list (can't board planes) or the Selectee list (subject to extra security screening), but the numbers are smaller than the consolidated list.
The broad, consolidated list of known or suspected terrorists is maintained by the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center (TSC).
According to a 2007 Justice Department inspector-general report, the FBI is responsible for submitting to the TSC all domestic terrorist identity nominations, and the National Counterterrorism Center (part of Homeland Security) is responsible for submitting all international terrorist identity nominations for inclusion in the consolidated terror watchlist.
On Sunday, Feinstein told CBS's "Face the Nation," "On the watch list...99.9 percent are foreign. Less than a half of one percent are Americans. So this essentially is the watch list which covers the No-Fly list, the Selectee List and others. It is mainly foreign names given by foreign intelligence agencies, foreign law enforcement officers, plus our own."