Politics & Policy

Pelosi: San Bernardino Shows Guns Are ‘a Public-Health Issue’

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) compared the San Bernardino terrorist attack to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School three years ago, arguing on Friday that the attack demonstrates the need for increased gun control.

“Sandy Hook and San Bernardino are bookends of a daily tragedy of gun violence that tears apart communities across the country,” Pelosi told reporters. “Gun violence has claimed over 90,000 American lives in the past three years. We have a responsibility to address this. It’s a public-health issue. It’s an epidemic.”

Pelosi has tried several times this week to force a vote on legislation that would bar people on terrorist watch lists from purchasing weapons, in keeping with President Obama’s attempt to characterize the attack as a result of lax gun laws. But the argument is complicated by new revelations about the San Bernardino attackers’ longstanding jihadist ambitions.

FBI director James Comey told lawmakers Thursday that federal officials didn’t realize one of the shooters already had intentions of committing an attack when she applied for a visa to the United States. “The intelligence indicates that she was [radicalized] before she connected with the other killer and came here,” he said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Pelosi demurred when asked “about the U.S. ability to interdict” would-be attackers. “I don’t think we’ve heard the whole story yet,” she said. “Our responsibility is to protect the American people any way that we can. We also have to protect our civil liberties and our country and we have to keep that balance. But, according to what we heard [in a congressional briefing] it would have been very hard to detect.”

— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.


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