Obama challenges Congress to reinstate assault weapon ban

Washington: US President Barack Obama on Tuesday challenged the Republican-controlled Congress to reinstate the ban on assault weapons in the wake of the shooting in a gay bar in Orlando in which 50 people, including shooter, were killed and 53 were injured on Sunday.

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, Xinhua reported.

“Reinstate the assault weapons ban (and) make it harder for terrorists to use these weapons to kill us,” Obama was quoted as saying 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 emphasised 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.

Meanwhile, 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.