WASHINGTON, June 13 (UPI) — Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton staked out their positions on gun control Monday, one day after a shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub killed 49 people.
Noting that the killer, Omar Seddique Mateen, used a “weapon of war,” an AR-15-style rifle, Clinton argued for stronger gun laws, including the reinstatement of an assault-weapons ban.
“Yes, there is a right for law-abiding, responsible Americans to own guns. And yes, there are reasonable common-sense measures to try to keep people safe from guns. We’ve got to figure out the best way to move forward on that,” Clinton told CNN’s “New Day.”
Trump said the nation’s current gun laws should be enforced and that Mateen shouldn’t have possessed the weapon he used to perpetrate the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
On CBS This Morning, Trump said he was concerned Mateen “slipped through the cracks.”
“The FBI has to be very upset about it,” Trump said on “Good Morning America.” “I’m a big fan of the FBI. They have to be very, very distraught.”
The semi-automatic AR-15 was illegally modified in the San Bernardino shootings in late 2015 that killed 14. In 2012, the weapon was used in the slaying of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The gun, designed in 1957, reloads quickly, allowing shooters to fire off many shots.
Efforts to strengthen gun control laws have repeatedly failed, even as the number of mass shootings in the United States continues to climb.
President Barack Obama in January issued a series of executive actions that aimed to tighten background checks, commit to making communities safer, increasing mental health treatment and implementing safer gun technology. Some of the measures sidestep congressional approval while others require legislative backing.
In December, the GOP-led Senate rejected two proposals introduced in the wake of the San Bernadino shootings. One would have required background checks for guns bought at gun shows and online. The other would have prevented people who are on a terror watch list from purchasing guns.
Similar legislation failed in 2013 soon after Sandy Hook.
The Orlando massacre occurred as Congress nears shutting down until the November elections. But the Senate and House are crafting spending bills, a legislative process that could include gun control and terrorism.
“If it is found out that this person was at least inspired by ISIS, then it’ll probably be a terrorism debate. If he wasn’t, it may be a gun debate,” Flake said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
He said the debate over tightening background checks on people with mental illness “should go on as well as the debate on how to best protect us against those who were inspired or funded or directed by international terrorists.”
Trump renewed his pledge to prevent Muslims from entering the United States.
“We have to have a ban of people coming in from Syria and different parts of the world with this philosophy that is so hateful and so horrible,” he said.
Mateen was a U.S. citizen whose parents are from Afghanistan.
Trump called on members of Muslim communities around the country to identify other suspects.
“I want strength, I want vigilance, I want people to report when they see something bad,” he said. “The last thing I want is congratulations. I was right, and I had been right, and I am right.”
On NBC’s “Today,” Clinton blasted Trump’s statements.
“All this talk and demagoguery and rhetoric is not going to solve the problem. I’m not going to demonize and demagogue and declare war on a religion,” Clinton said.“That’s just plain dangerous and it plays into ISIS’s hands.”
Clinton defended her policies.
“I’m going to be as firm, and strong and single-minded in going after ISIS as anybody could be … but I also want to save lives from gun violence more broadly, as well,” she said on CNN.