The USA is reeling once again after the deadliest shooting spree in American history killed at least 50 people in an attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando.
The suspected gunman, 29-year-old Omar Saddiqui Mateen, a US citizen, reportedly pledged allegiance to Islamic State (ISIL) during the shooting.
President Barack Obama called it “an act of terror and an act of hate”.
He also used the incident to reiterate his call for tighter gun control in America.
“This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or a house of worship, or a movie theatre, or a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country that we want to be,” Obama said.
His call comes just 12 days after he gave a prophetic answer on the issue of gun control and terrorism during a town-hall event with PBS NewsHour in Indiana on June 1.
He rejected the claims that the Democrats were trying to disarm the nation, saying “more guns sold since I’ve been president than just about any time in US history. There are enough guns for every man, woman and child in this country. And at no point have I ever proposed confiscating guns from responsible gun owners.”
Obama compared guns to cars, saying science had been used to cut the road toll and make driving safer, but added that Congress won’t allow the Centre for Disease Control to study gun violence.
“When we talked about doing effective background checks, it was resisted because the notion was we were going to take your guns away,” the President said.
And then flagged a scenario chillingly similar to the one involving the Orlando gunman, revealing the problem both the President and nation face.
Mateen was investigated by the FBI twice, but the case was closed. He legally purchased the two firearms used in the attack — a handgun and a long gun — in the last few days, a police spokesman said in a press conference on Sunday.
Here’s what the President said on June 1.
I just came from a meeting today in the Situation Room in which I’ve got people who we know have been on ISIL websites, living here in the United States, US citizens, and we’re allowed to put them on the “No fly” list when it comes to airlines.
But because of the National Rifle Association, I cannot prohibit those people from buying a gun.
This is somebody who is a known ISIL sympathiser.
And if he wants to walk into a gun store or gun show right now and buy as many weapons and ammo as he can, nothing’s prohibiting him from doing that, even though the FBI knows who that person is.
Obama ended his answer with a plea: “There is a way to have common sense gun laws… but the only way we’re going to do that is if we don’t have a situation which anything that is proposed is viewed as some tyrannical destruction of the Second Amendment. And that’s how too often the issue gets framed”.
Perhaps the ability of a single terrorist to do so much damage using America’s gun laws may finally see Obama’s wish for change happen.
Watch the encounter below.
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