Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Tuesday that passing gun control laws is now "part and parcel of homeland security" in an interview on CBS This Morning.
In the segment which was flagged by Politico, Johnson said this was the first time he had vocalized such a belief publicly. President Obama and congressional Democrats have made a renewed push for gun control laws in the wake of the Orlando terrorist attack on a gay nightclub that left 49 people dead.
Johnson, who made a series of media appearances Tuesday, was asked by left-leaning host Gayle King what it would take to get gun control laws passed in the United States.
"What will it take to move the needle when it comes to gun control?" she asked. "People thought it would be Sandy Hook."
"You're asking me about gun control. I am not anxious to plunge into yet another difficult, contentious issue like the ones I already have," Johnson said. "I do believe, however, that meaningful, responsible gun control is now part and parcel of homeland security. It's critical to public safety, but we have to face the fact that meaningful, responsible gun control has to be part of homeland security as well, given the prospect of homegrown, home-born violent extremism in this country."
Democrats have made a push in Congress to prevent people on the terror watch list from buying an "assault weapon." CBS host Charlie Rose asked Johnson if he felt the same.
"Well, a number of people have made the point that individuals who are on our no-fly list, who are on various other lists, who are able to purchase a weapon in this country … I believe that's something that has to be addressed," Johnson said.
"With great respect, Mr. Secretary, you are head of Homeland Security. What do you think?" Rose asked.
"I believe that meaningful, responsible gun control is part of homeland security, and it's something we have to address," Johnson said.
King asked if this was a new public stance for him.
"I have not talked about gun control publicly at this point, but I think that we have to face the fact that gun control is part and parcel of homeland security and how things are evolving," Johnson said.
He added later he did not want to infringe on the rights of "responsible" gun owners.