The United States is safer from foreign-directed, large-scale terrorist attacks now than it was on Sept. 11, 2001, but it is in more danger from “self-radicalized” people, and gun safety measures are the answer to that issue, former Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said Wednesday.
“A lot of people ask me are we safer today than we were 18 years ago,” Johnson told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“The answer is yes and no.”
Johnson said the government is doing a “much better” job in preventing large-scale attacks, such as the ones that took place on Sept. 11, and that countless overseas plots have been stopped in their tracks over the past 18 years.
However, the country is challenged by the smaller-scale, terrorist-inspired attacks by self-radicalized people who take action based on something they’ve seen or read from a foreign terrorist organization or an extreme right-wing entity in the United States, he said.
“People ask me, what’s the answer,” said Johnson. “I say the first three answers are gun safety, gun safety, gun safety, and we just have to address this.”
Johnson noted that Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., have been able to get together with their proposed gun bill, and if they can come from the states they do with strong positions on the Second Amendment, the rest of Congress should be able to come together as well.
“I think that the time is now finally right for Congress to do something about gun safety,” said Johnson. “We have to address that as a matter of our public safety and homeland security.”
Right-wing violent nationalist attacks now outpace attacks inspired by foreign terrorist organizations, and the nation must address the ability of a violent, deranged individual to get a gun, particularly an assault weapon, he added.
“If we do not, our leaders in Congress and in the White House are letting down the American people,” he said. “This can’t go on.”