Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Sunday that federal databases meant to track potential terrorists are riddled with inaccuracies, as the Republican presidential candidate sought to defend his Thursday vote against a Senate measure that sought to deny people in these databases the right to purchase guns.
Democrats introduced the measure in response to the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, that left 14 people dead. All but one Republican senator voted against it. President Barack Obama on Saturday said it's "insane" that people on the federal government's no-fly list could legally purchase guns. "If you're too dangerous to board a plane, you're too dangerous, by definition, to buy a gun," Obama said.
But in defending their move to defeat the measure, Republicans have renewed widely held concerns that the federal government's various lists are too broad and have ensnared potentially hundreds of thousands of otherwise innocent Americans who have no connection to terrorism.
"A majority of the people on the no-fly list are oftentimes people that basically just have the same name as somebody else, who don't belong on the no-fly list," Rubio said during a televised interview on CNN. "These are everyday Americans that have nothing to do with terrorism, they wind up on the no-fly list, there is no due process or any way to get your name removed from it in a timely fashion, and now they're having their Second Amendment right being impeded upon."
It's not clear whether national Republicans, such as Rubio, intend to clamp down on the federal government's reliance on databases such as the no-fly list, or whether they intend to now make it easier for wrongly suspected Americans to get their names removed from these lists.
Rubio said the federal government's various terrorism-related watch lists contain "a significant number of errors."
"If these were perfect lists that would be one thing," Rubio said, "but there are over 700,000 Americans on some watch list or another that would all be captured under this amendment the Democrats offered, and that's the problem."
Rubio added, "There aren't 700,000 terrorists operating in America openly on watch lists. They include vast numbers of Americans who have names similar to someone we're looking for. Sometimes you're only on that list because the FBI wants to talk to you about someone you know, not because you're a suspect."