Feinstein Says Her Gun Control Bill Would Flag Anyone Who's Ever Been Investigated by FBI

By Susan Jones | June 20, 2016 | 8:43am EDT
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) says "99.9 percent" of those on the government's secret terror watchlist "are foreign." (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Gun control advocate Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) says her amendment -- which the Senate will take up on Monday -- would flag anyone who's ever been investigated by the FBI:

"Omar Mateen would have been picked up by this...because he was under investigation. There is a part of our bill that would cover him as well," Feinstein told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday.

Host John Dickerson followed up: "So if you have been under investigation over some period of time, you would trigger --"

"That's correct," Feinstein interrupted.

"And what's the time period there for --" Dickerson asked.

"There is no time period,"  Feinstein said.

"So...if you've ever been looked at by the FBI?" Dickerson asked.

"That's correct," Feinstein said.

What if the FBI got it wrong, Dickerson asked. "So now they can never buy a firearm?"

"They would be subject to being pinged," Feinstein said, adding that the FBI "would look at it."

99.9% of people on watch list are foreigners

Feinstein said as things stand now, a terrorist can come to this country and pass a background check to legally buy a gun because the national database does not contain information that would deny the sale.

"And if you consider the fact that over 500 arrests and convictions for providing material support [for terrorism] or conspiring or one of these things has...occurred, you know that these things are going on and the only way we have of stopping them is good intelligence plus a kind of net that will pick up foreigners.

"On the watch list, and this is important, 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."

Dickerson noted that the terror watch list is known to contain errors, and that people who should not be on it are there anyway, and "nobody really knows how to get off the list, that there's a -- what people call a due process problem here. How do you solve that issue?" he asked.

"Yes, we provide due process," Feinstein said. "There is administrative appeal. And you can go to a court. And you -- you -- that -- that's the traditional appeal. And that is available in this -- these cases.

"But...will it be easy?" Dickerson asked.  I mean this is -- we're talking about basically a right guaranteed by the Constitution. So that's -- denied by an appeals process that people can get lost in. What guarantees can you give people that they would be able to get off this list quickly?"

"Oh, please," Feinstein scoffed. "First of all, I -- I'm saying that the great overwhelming part of this list, 99.5 percent, are foreigners. They come in. There's reason for them to be suspect. They'll go through the same appeal process anybody else goes through. I don't think there's any need to give them any special privilege on an appeals list.

"If their name is pinged, and the attorney general's office looks into it and makes a decision, that there -- there -- there are -- there is compelling evidence, not necessarily probable cause...but reasonable suspicion that this could be a terrorist threat, they can deny the weapon.

Feinstein said the aim of her bill is to flag people who are "probable threats." The Justice Department has endorsed her legislation.

The Senate is expected to vote Monday on Feinstein's bill and three other others -- two of them sponsored by Republicans. None is expected to pass, the Associated Press reported.

A measure sponsored by Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)  would expand gun background checks.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas sponsored a measure that would allow the government to delay a gun sale to a suspected terrorist for 72 hours, but require prosecutors to go to court to show probable cause to block the sale permanently. The NRA backs the legislation, but gun control advocates and Democrats say that bar is too high.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley's measure would boost funds for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and ensure that the correct records are uploaded into the system in a timely manner. It would also clarify language surrounding mental health issues that would disqualify someone from buying a gun.

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