Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Obama challenges Congress to reinstate assault weapon ban

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday challenged the Republican-controlled Congress to reinstate the ban on assault weapons in the wake of the deadliest shooting massacre in the US history.

At least 49 people were killed and 53 others wounded, including a police officer, early Sunday in a shooting spree at a popular LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

The gunman, identified by authorities as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida, used an AR-15 assault rifle and a handgun to carry out the attack. Both guns were purchased legally.

"Reinstate the assault weapons ban, (and) make it harder for terrorists to use these weapons to kill us," said Obama at a press conference, warning that without such a ban, "these kinds of events are going to keep on happening."

The manufacture for civilian use of certain semi-automatic firearms was banned in 1994. However, when the ban expired in 2004, the US Congress refused to renew the ban.

"We have to work hard as a nation, to reconsider our gun laws that allow such massacres to take place," Iman Muhammad Musri, an Islam leader told a rally to commemorate the victims in the mass shooting in Orlando Monday.

As the attack occurred in the leadup to the 2016 race for the White House, two competing narratives are already emerging, with the left touting what they say is a need for more gun control and the right calling for more action against "Islamic radicalism."

In a speech from her campaign trail on Monday, Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton talked about the need to tackle terrorism, but emphasized what she billed as a need for more gun control.

While noting that the shooter had pledged allegiance to IS, she added that his motives remain unknown.

"There's a lot we still don't know, including what other mix of motives drove him to kill," she said.

Later on Monday, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump spoke from his campaign trail in the state of New Hampshire, saying he would "suspend immigration" from parts of the world where there is a proven link between that country and terrorism.

Expressing disdain for what he called the "current politically correct response," he said political correctness inhibits the United States from responding fast and clearly.

In response to those who believe that stricter firearms laws will keep Americans safer, the bombastic billionaire noted that while France has very strict gun control laws, scores were killed in the deadly terror in Paris last year.

Trump added that more gun control would be tantamount to disarming law-abiding Americans and leaving them more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

As the mass shooting triggered heated political debates, people in Orlando in the southeastern US state of Florida showed their solidarity with a vigil on Monday.

Thousands of people gathered in downtown Orlando to remember the 49 people who were killed and to pray for the 53 others wounded.

People held praying signs and candles. Some of them laid flowers and wrote encouraging words on the pavement with crayon.

"Be Strong Orlando," "One City Love" and "We are with you," said the signs.

"Tonight we remain a city of pain, we are mourning and we are angry," said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer in a speech during the vigil on Monday. "We will get through this because in our city's darkest hour, our residents have shown that they are the light."




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