America’s deadliest mass shooting in Orlando in which 50 people were killed by a gunman pledging allegiance to Islamic State has reignited the debate on gun violence, war against terror and homegrown terrorism with lawmakers calling for stricter gun control laws.
“Confronting the threat of violent homegrown radicalisation is one of the greatest counter-terrorism challenges our law enforcement and intelligence community faces,” Florida Senator Marco Rubio said.
“We are a nation at war with Islamist terrorists. Theirs is a repressive, hateful ideology that respects no borders. It is a threat to our people at home and abroad,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said.
Congressman Robert C ‘Bobby’ Scott, a vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus’ Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus called for a strong gun control laws.
“These tragedies are far too common and we cannot continue to sit idly by as these incidences continue to happen. Congress must review every available proposal to determine what we can do to reduce all forms of gun violence.
“Americans are understandably frustrated at our inability to come together to address this problem in a meaningful way. I will continue to fight for evidence - based policy proposals to address this issue. I just hope that the leadership in Congress will finally agree that enough is enough. Meaningful action is long overdue,” Scott said.
Senator Tom Carper, top Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said this horrific attack reminds that the US must remain vigilant at home against threats of terrorism.
“It is critical that federal, state and local law enforcement officials work together to get to the bottom of this attack,” he said.
“As we learn more information about this tragedy, we must remain steadfast in our commitment as a nation to acknowledge the threats we face and do everything we can to root out terror,” Senator John McCain said.
Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Senator Susan Collins described this as worst attack on the US since 9/11 and the worst mass shooting in “our history”.
“If the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe confirms allegations that the attacker pledged his allegiance to IS or if he proves to have been a lone wolf, this attack is yet another stark reminder that the US is not immune from the threat of violent extremism,” she said.
Senator John Boozman said IS and radical Islamic terrorists have repeatedly called on supporters to attack Americans here at home.
“This act of terrorism is an attack on our freedoms. Our country must have the resolve to defeat ISIS. As a country, we need to do whatever it takes to destroy IS using whatever means possible to protect Americans at home and abroad,” Boozman said.
Senator Jack Reed said while investigators are still gathering all the facts, the shooter was clearly a hate-filled individual.
Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera said this terrible crime is an attack on the core value of equality for all.
“This is the deadliest mass shooting in our nation’s history, yet occurrences like this are far too common in our society. We must do a better job of keeping our communities safe with common-sense background checks, and I will continue to fight to prevent these mass casualties like this in Congress,” he said.
“The Senate’s inaction on commonsense gun violence prevention makes it complicit in this public health crisis. Prayers and platitudes are insufficient,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal.
“We must do everything in our power to stamp out these cowardice acts of terrorism and we must not feed the negative energies of hate and intolerance,” said Congressman Tim Ryan.
“We must also look beyond this terrible moment and decide what we as a nation are willing to do to prevent hatred, gun violence and domestic terrorism,” said Congressman Ann Kirkpatrick from Arizona.
It is absolutely infuriating to read reports that this shooter used an assault weapon to murder 50 innocent people and wound 53 more, said Congressman David N Cicilline.
“It just should not be this easy for someone to walk into a gun store and walk out armed with a weapon of war that is designed to kill as many people as quickly as possible,” he said.
Congresswoman Kathy Castor said this horrendous circumstances remind that the Congress can act to reinstate the military, high-capacity assault weapons ban and pass legislation to prohibit any person on the national terrorism watch list from being able to purchase a firearm.
Data from the Government Accountability Office show that between 2004 and 2010, people on terrorism watch lists tried to buy guns and explosives more than 1,400 times. They succeeded in more than 90 per cent of those cases, or 1,321 times, she said.
Image: Ciaran Lithgow of Washington, DC holds a sign of condolence for victims of the attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Photograph: James Lawler Duggan/Reuters