Sen. Rand Paul thinks the current debate over blocking terror suspects from buying guns is missing the mark, since the man behind the mass shooting in Orlando wasn't even on the federal watch list.
"I do think that there's one answer here that if we put it up, everybody could vote for it. That's the idea that if you have been investigated by the FBI, that your file remains open for five years," the Kentucky Republican said in an interview. "And that you would remain on the terror watch list."
"That's the only thing that, of all of these proposals, that would actually have worked to have got the Orlando killer, because all of the stuff with the watch list doesn't work if he's not on the watch list," Paul said.
[ Will Gun Votes Yield Politics or Progress? ] Paul outlined his idea just ahead of Monday's test votes on a series of four amendments related to background checks and restrictions on access to guns. All of the measures failed to achieve the 60 votes needed to advance across the Senate floor.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, Paul's 2016 challenger in Kentucky's Senate race, criticized Paul afterward over the senator's opposition to an amendment sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., intended to stop people on watch lists from purchasing firearms.
[ Gun Votes Become Litmus Test for Political Giving ] "The greatest responsibility our elected officials in Washington have is to keep Americans safe," Gray said. "Senator Paul has repeatedly failed to meet this standard, and he did so again tonight by voting to keep open a loophole that allows suspected terrorists to buy guns."
But Paul, a former GOP presidential hopeful, said in the interview that he will keep pushing Republicans to support the narrower provision to keep people actually investigated by federal law enforcement on a watch list.
[ Senate Rejects All Four Gun Measures ] "I've advocated in my caucus for keeping the investigations open, so someone remains on the list. I kind of wish we were voting on that as a standalone," Paul said. "That's so non-controversial that it would actually probably pass."