Following the worst mass shooting in modern American history, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have built their ideological divisions clear
Gun control, homegrown extremism, homophobic violence and the war against Islamic State have all been highlighted by the Orlando nightclub carnage, but deadlock in Washington entails major legislation will probably have to wait until after the November election.
Whoever wins the US presidency knows where to find an in-tray where the risk of being terrorism at home, and its pledge to wars abroad, grinds on 15 years after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Senate Democrat went on the front foot on Monday, calling for statutes that would make it harder for terrorists to get their hands on firearms, in particular assault rifles.
In a vivid illustration of ideological division, however, Republican flag-bearer Donald Trump opposed gun control measures, lambasted the immigration system as dysfunctional and claimed vindication in his call for a ban on foreign-born Muslims entering the US.
A landslide victory for Clinton or Trump, with reflected gains in Congress, could give one or the other a mandate for change lacking during the Obama years. In the meantime there is realpolitik. With Obama facing a Republican-led House and Senate, the prospects for action are remote even after the killing of 49 people in the worst mass shooting in American history.
Even so, Senate Democrat lost little time on Monday in advising quick passageway of the regulations defeated last year to impose additional gun controls. The bill would prevent people on terror watch lists and other suspected terrorists from buying firearms or explosives.
The killer in Orlando has been identified as Omar Mateen, a 29 -year-old American-born Muslim, whose weapons included an AR-1 5 semi-automatic rifle. FBI officials said they had investigated him in 2013 and 2014 on suspicion of terrorist sympathies but could not make a suit against him.
Obama himself weighed in on Monday. The fact that we make it this challenging for law enforcement, for example, even to get alerted that somebody who they are watching has purchased a handgun and if they do get alerted, sometimes its hard for them to stop them from getting a firearm is crazy. Its a problem. And we have to, I believe, do some soul-searching.
But again, the peril here is, is that then it aims up being the usual political debate. And the NRA and the gun control folks say that, oh, Obama doesnt want to talk about terrorism. And if “were talking about” terrorism, then people say: why arent you looking at issues of gun control?
At the start of his second word, Obama pushed legislation to expand background checks, banning certain assault-style weapons and cap the size of ammunition clips. That measure collapsed in the Senate and there has been little movement since.
But if Trump elicits an electoral backlash, handing sweeping victories to Democrats, there could be new opportunities for Clinton, who has been more outspoken on such issues than candidates in previous years.
On Monday, she told a rally in Cleveland, Ohio: If the FBI is watching you for suspected terrorist connections, you should not be able to got to go buy a firearm with no questions asked. And you shouldnt be allowed to exploit loopholes and escape criminal background checks by buying online or at a gun indicate. And yes, if youre too dangerous to get on a plane, you are too dangerous to buy a handgun in America.
Yet the watchlist argument is less simple than fulfills the eye. The no-fly list, for example, has come under flame from left and right. Drawn up by the FBI in the wake of the 9/11 assaults, it contains 700,000 names, according to one estimate, and has erroneously included infants, US military veterans and politicians, including Edward Kennedy and John Lewis. Analysts describe it as an unfocused and unwieldy blunt instrument.
This is one reason why a Congress that blocked gun control measures after the shooting of 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut, seems unlikely to transformation gear now. Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, acknowledged: I dont know whether this profound tragedy will have more of an effect on the minds of members of Congress. Hopefully it will.
But Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the Senate committee on homeland security and governmental affairs, disagreed that stricter handgun laws were the solution. I think theres other root causes in play, he told the Associated Press. I think mental health is a huge issue.
These are the tangibles, more readily quantified. What the White House and Congress should do to promote harmony with both the Muslim and LGBT communities is a more textured long-term challenge, where tone is crucial.
With characteristic bombast, Trump charged straight-out in on Monday. When I am elected, I will suspend immigration from areas of the world when there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we understand how to end these threats, he said.
We cannot continue to allow thousands upon thousands of people to pour into our country, many of whom using the same thought process as this barbarian killer.
He added: The Muslim communitys so important. They have to work with us and turn in the people who are bad.
At Clintons rally, the tone was very different. We should avoid eroding trust in that community inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric and threatening to ban the family and friends of Muslim Americans, and millions of Muslim business people, hurts the vast majority of Muslims, who love freedom and detest terror.
It is no coincidence, she added, that hate crimes against American Muslims and mosques have tripled since the Paris and San Bernardino attacks.
She called on local leaders, teachers and communities to develop education to recognize signs of radicalisation. And in contrast to Trumps proposed banning on someones, she instead took aim at foreign governments, implying she would take a tougher stand than Obama. It is long past hour for Saudis, Qataris, Kuwaitis and others to stop their citizens from funding extremist organisations.
The Orlando attack has also focused attention on hate crimes against gay men and lesbians in America. The Obama administration has overseen great strides, including the legalisation of lesbian wedding, but, activists note, this can conceal ongoing aggression and racism in many communities. The recent political debate over transgender bathroom utilize is seen as one example that contributes to a hostile climate.
It was reported on Monday that members of Congress plan to ask the White House to end a decades-old policy that prohibits many homosexuals men from donating blood. Senators including Elizabeth Warren have long criticised the rule as discriminatory.
Using the alternative word Isil, Obama recognise the targeting of LGBT people by Islamic State but dedicated little clue of new concrete measures. Regardless of the particular motivations of this murderer, there are the linkages between this vicious, bankrupt ideology and general attitudes of gays and lesbians. And unfortunately, thats something that the LGBT community is subject to not just by Isil but by a lot of groups that purport to speak on behalf of God around the world.
Trump, meanwhile, set himself up as an unlikely champion of the LGBT community. Ask yourself: who is really the friend of women and the LBGT[ sic] community Donald Trump, with his actions, or Hillary Clinton, with her words? Clinton wants to allow radical Islamic terrorists to pour into our country they enslave women, and slaying gays. I dont want them in our country.
But Trumps remarks met with scepticism from homosexual rights activists, who argue that he has vowed to appoint supreme court justices who would roll back nationwide wedding equality.
Jay Brown, communications director of the Human Rights Campaign, said: Lets be clear: LGBTQ people are Muslims.
And induce no mistake, Donald Trump is no friend of the LGBTQ community. Donald Trump has vowed to roll back matrimony equality, pass Kim Davis-style discrimination and allow governors from coast to coast to pass laws like North Carolinas HB2. Trumps rhetoric today isnt fooling anyone and what he is peddling isnt protection. Its poison.
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