In advance of President Obama’s trip to Orlando, White House spokesman Erick Shultz told the press Thursday the purpose of the trip was so that he (Obama), “will be able to meet with family members of those we lost over the weekend, some of the survivors who were there at the club over the weekend, and local law enforcement personnel to express his profound gratitude for their acts of heroism over the weekend.”
And Shultz said, “I wouldn’t expect an expansive speech or anything.”
What a difference a day makes.
After meeting with families of victims from the terrorist attack at the Pulse nightclub, the president stood at a podium arranged at the Pulse memorial and said, “Our politics have conspired to make it as easy as possible for a terrorist or even just a disturbed individual to buy extraordinarily powerful weapons, and they can do so legally.”
The president’s statement stands in direct contrast to Shultz’s comments the president would focus on grieving families’ needs. Instead of focusing on terrorism, the president made no apologies for shifting the focus on to gun control. Supposedly using the victims’ grief to discuss more gun control measures he said, “They don’t care about the politics. Neither do I.”
“Those who defend the easy accessibility of assault weapons should meet these families,” the president said in what one might say was an attempt to try and merge the notion that terrorism and easy access to the purchase of weaponry go hand in hand.
Critics contend criminals will obtain weapons by any means necessary such as stealing legally owned ones, buying them on the black market, or getting them from unsuspecting family members and the president’s policies will only make it harder for citizens to defend themselves from criminals intent on harming law-abiding Americans.
The president said the “notion” that if club-goers were armed to defend themselves from Omar Mateen “defies common sense.” But it was an off-duty police officer working security who first engaged Mateen. His shots were not effective in putting a stop to Mateen initially, but heavily armed police were able to put down the terrorist. Donald Trump responded after the attacks with the statement if club-goers were armed then Mateen would not have been successful in carrying out his attack which left 49 dead.
Obama said he hopes the Senate and the House will “do the right thing” and pass more anti-gun legislation. Using what could be considered much stronger language than he’s used before, the president called the weapons used in the Orlando massacre “weapons of war.”
The usage of the term possibly implies the president considers all handguns and semi-automatic rifles as implements of war and should be banned, potentially leaving hunters and gun enthusiasts with single shot weapons, if at all.
The president said, “We will not be able to stop every tragedy…but we can stop some tragedies…we can reduce the impact of a terrorist attack if we’re smart.”
The president’s hopeful contention more laws could have prevented the terrorist attack in Orlando may give further credence to critics who contend, as Charles Krauthammer has argued, the president is simply an idealist, not a realist.
As was reported on Thursday, Mateen was unsuccessful in purchasing his weaponry at one local gun shop, whose owner also alerted the FBI, who were unable to stop Mateen from simply finding another gun store who legally provided him with his firearms. Likewise, the gun-free zone of the night club provided the sitting duck scenario the terrorist needed to achieve his now infamous notoriety.