Republican presidential candidate John Kasich warned over the weekend that people on the terrorist watch list should be able to buy guns or it could “tip somebody off” that they are being watched.
Jake Tapper, host of CNN’s State of the Union, asked Kasich on Sunday if the recent terror attacks in San Bernardino were a sign that it was time to block gun purchases for people on the government’s no-fly and terrorist watch lists.
Kasich said that he would consider a moratorium on gun purchases for those on the no-fly list, but he argued that it was a bad idea to block suspected terrorists from buying firearms.
“When our law enforcement stops somebody that’s on the watch list, we don’t tell them they are on the watch list,” he explained. “We want to make sure we can exploit all the information that we can possibly get.”
“So, if all of the sudden you tell everybody that’s on the watch list that you can’t do this or that then guess what happens? Then we lose our ability to track, we lose our ability to gather information,” he added. “So I think we have to be careful.”
The candidate admitted that “of course it makes common sense” to ban gun purchases for people on terrorist watch list, but he said that “what we have to deal with is the fact that we don’t want to tip somebody off that they’re under review and that we could be gathering critical information to disrupt the plot.”
“Once it happens, we know how tragic it is,” he said. “So what he have to do is to make sure we do disrupt [terrorist plots].”
“Let me game this out,” Tapper pressed. “They’re on the terror watch list so they are being surveilled, they go in to buy an AR-15 and you think that person should be able to get it because you don’t want to tip them off that they’re on a terror watch list?”
Without giving a direct answer to the question, Kasich replied that policy makers needed to “be careful in the way that we handle this.”
“If there is a practical way to limit it, yes, but I think we also have to weigh it off against our ability to surveil,” he explained. “This is something that has to be considered from many different sides so we don’t make a big mistake again.”
“Things are not that simple in life,” Kasich opined. “But you know where you want to go, go fix it.”
Watch the video below from CNN, broadcast Dec. 6, 2015.