Obama meets Orlando families, renews call for gun control

US President Barack Obama voices support for gay community, after meeting with relatives of victims of mass shooting in Orlando which took place early in the morning last Sunday.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

President Barack Obama with Vice President Joe Biden carry bouquets made up of a total of 49 white roses, one in honour of each of the deceased victims, as they visit a memorial to the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting, June 16, 2016 in Orlando.

United States President Barack Obama met on Thursday with relatives of the 49 people killed in the Orlando nightclub shooting, the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

During the meeting, families and survivors of the attack asked the president to take measures to prevent the kind of gun violence that took their loved ones.  

On Sunday, Omar Mateen, a US born citizen of Afghan descent, opened fire at the LGBT nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others.

Obama pointed out that those who were killed or injured at Pulse were gunned down by a single man who was armed with an AR-15 type rifle, a high-powered assault weapon that can fire more than 30 rounds a minute.

He said Mateen's motives may have been different than that of Aurora mass shooter James Eagan Holmes and Newtown mass murderer Adam Lanza, but the instruments that they used to kill people were similar.

"Unfortunately, our politics have conspired to make it as easy as possible for a terrorist or just a disturbed individual like those in Aurora and Newtown to buy extraordinarily powerful weapons, and they can do so legally," he continued.

The president renewed his call for Congress to enact gun control legislation that would make it harder for people to acquire powerful weapons.

"We can’t anticipate or catch every single deranged person that may wish to do harm to his neighbors or his friends or his coworkers or strangers. But we can do something about the amount of damage that they do."

Hours after Obama’s speech in Orlando, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump criticised the president for his comments on gun control.

"We have tragedy after tragedy, and it's a tough situation. But he's largely, to a large extent, he's blaming guns," Trump said, pledging to save the Second Amendment of the US constitution which reads "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

US President Barack Obama receives a t-shirt from Mayor of Orlando Buddy Dyer as he arrives in Orlando to meet with families of victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting, in Florida, US.

In his speech, the president underlined that the attack was an act of hate targeting the LGBT community in the US, as most of the victims were gay.

He called on all Americans to welcome everyone regardless of their sexual orientation, saying, "We have to end discrimination and violence against our brothers and sisters who are in the LGBT community, here at home and around the world, especially in countries where they are routinely prosecuted."

"It’s our unity, the outpouring of love that so many across our country have shown to our fellow Americans who are LGBT; a display of solidarity that might have been unimaginable even a few years ago," he said.

TRTWorld and agencies