On the issues: Gun control separates candidates in wake of Orlando massacre

Clinton sees need for fewer guns, more regulations; Trump says more guns will stop more shooters in the act.

By Eric DuVall
Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are on opposite ends of the spectrum on the issue of gun control. Clinton sees a need for more regulations and fewer guns, while Trump says more guns being carried would stop some mass shootings. UPI file photos
Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are on opposite ends of the spectrum on the issue of gun control. Clinton sees a need for more regulations and fewer guns, while Trump says more guns being carried would stop some mass shootings. UPI file photos

WASHINGTON, June 15 (UPI) -- In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history on Sunday, an examination of the records and public statements by the two presumptive presidential nominees shows they have polar opposite prescriptions for stopping gun violence.

The Pulse nightclub shooting on Sunday that has killed 49 people so far, with several of the 53 wounded still clinging to life, has added another name to a haunting list:


Columbine. Red Lake. Virginia Tech. Tucson. Binghamton. Fort Hood. Aurora. Oak Creek. Newtown. Santa Monica. The Washington Navy Yard. Charleston. San Bernardino.

And now, Orlando.

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Those are just some of the places since 1999 where four or more unrelated people were killed in singular, stunning acts of gun violence.

As horrific as those incidents are, the number killed in each pales in comparison to a normal day in the United States, a country where, on average, 90 people are shot dead daily and 33,000 are killed each year.


Hillary Clinton believes fewer guns will help. Donald Trump says we need more.

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Here are their proposals and their words.

For Trump, Second Amendment must be 'cherished'

In responding to a mass shooting inspired by the Islamic State at a Paris nightclub, and after Sunday's massacre at Pulse, a gay nightclub targeted by Omar Mateen, a man authorities believe was a self-radicalized terrorist, Trump said more people carrying concealed guns would have led to fewer deaths.

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Trump told an audience in North Carolina in March the Paris attack "would have played out differently with the bullets flying in the other direction."

In response to the Orlando killings, Trump echoed that remark to Fox News:

"If you had guns in that room, if you had -- even if you had a number of people having them strapped to their ankle or strapped to their waist, where bullets could have flown in the other direction right at him, you wouldn't have had the same kind of a tragedy," he said.

In Orlando, at least, the evidence is a mixed bag on that claim. The only other gun police know of inside Pulse at the time of the shooting belonged to a uniformed off-duty police officer conducting security at the venue. The officer engaged Mateen's gunfire after he began killing and forced him into a bathroom, effectively ending the rampage and turning an active shooter situation into a hostage negotiation.


Had someone acted sooner with another gun, could more lives have been saved? Or would more people have been killed in the hail of bullets, caught in the crossfire in the chaos of a loud, dark nightclub?

Orlando police are still investigating whether some of the victims were accidentally killed by police bullets when SWAT officers stormed the club and killed Mateen. One of the survivors, Norman Casiano, told The New York Times police initially shot at him as he attempted to escape the bathroom where he and several others had been hiding.

On the larger question of gun control, Trump said he opposes any new gun regulations and favors a national repeal of concealed carry restrictions, that would allow all gun owners across the United States to carry weapons at all times. He also opposes a ban on assault-style rifles like the AR-15.

Trump has also said he believes teachers, if trained in firearms use, should be allowed to carry guns in schools to help protect children in the event of a mass shooting like at Columbine High School in Colorado or at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Trump has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association and received an A-rating from the group.


For Clinton, gun control a centerpiece of primary campaign

Clinton backs a series of gun-control measures that would make some gun sales more time-consuming and would prevent some individuals who are presently allowed to buy guns from doing so.

Her reason: "I'm not going to sit by while more good people die," she told an audience in Cleveland in April. "They get 24 or 48 or 72 hours of TV coverage and then we all just say 'well there's nothing we can do' until the next time people are murdered by gun violence."

While she calls gun ownership "part of the fabric of many law-abiding communities" she supports closing the so-called "gun show loophole" that allows firearms distributors to sell firearms to individuals without a background check at temporary gun shows.

Under the banner of "common sense gun reform," Clinton has called for comprehensive federal legislation requiring background checks for nearly all gun sales. The only sales that would not be subject to background checks under Clinton's plan would be one-time, person-to-person gifts or sales between private citizens.

Clinton calls for closing the so-called "Charleston loophole" that allowed alleged killer Dylann Roof to purchase the weapon used in a church shooting massacre in South Carolina. Under federal law presently, gun shops are permitted to complete a transaction if the federal government does not return a background check within three days.


Roof's gun purchase would have been flagged and stopped because of his criminal record had the background check been completed in time, but it was not and he was allowed to legally purchase a firearm that killed nine people.

"I don't know how we keep seeing shooting after shooting, reading about the people murdered because they went to Bible study, or the movies, or they were just doing their job -- and not finally say, 'we've got to do something about this,'" Clinton said.

The issue of gun control was a significant one in her primary campaign against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Clinton leaned on her anti-gun positions as one area where she hashed out a spot to Sanders' left on a core liberal issue. Sanders hails from Vermont, a small, rural state with relatively lax gun laws.

While both Clinton and Sanders supported universal background checks and a ban on assault-style weapons, Clinton supports repealing a federal law that shields gun shops and gun companies from civil suits relating to gun deaths.

Clinton said gun companies should be held accountable for violence and the government should crack down on gun shop owners who don't follow the law.


Sanders said allowing civil litigation against gun companies and individual gun stores if a weapon bought there is used in a killing would effectively stop all gun sales and violate the Second Amendment.

Clinton proudly noted her F-rating from the NRA. Sanders was rated a D-minus.

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