California lawmakers on Sunday called for increased pressure against terror groups and stricter gun laws after a self proclaimed Islamic State loyalist used an assault rifle and pistol to kill 50 people at a Florida nightclub.
Omar Mateen, 29, opened fire into the crowded Pulse club about 2 a.m. Sunday. The bullets he fired into the panicked crowd wounded an additional 53 people before Orlando police shot and killed him. The early morning terror attack sparked backlash from at least 37 of California’s 55 lawmakers, some who still harbor fresh fears about weapons access following the December terrorist attack in San Bernardino.
“Terror groups like ISIS and al Qaida cannot be reasoned with or moderated, and co-existence with them is impossible,” said Rep. Devin Nunes, the chariman of the House Intelligence Committee, “Along with our allies, we must engage these enemies more forcefully throughout the vast areas in which they operate, while ensuring that our intelligence agencies have all the authorities they need to detect and stop these kinds of attacks. The only way to guarantee our security is to eliminate the jihadists’ entire organizations and expel them from the safe havens in which they operate.”
He waged war on the LGBT community. And we as a nation let him.
Rep. Tony Cárdenas
Tolerating periodic mass attacks on American and allied civilians is simply not an option, the Tulare Republican said.
The Sunday morning terror attack marked the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, said Rep. Adam Schiff, the senior Democrat on the committee.
“Right now, the intelligence community is combing through its holdings, checking what we have on the shooter, and coordinating with local law enforcement in the investigation,” Schiff, of Burbank, said. “I have received an initial briefing, and expect to be briefed throughout the day over the coming days. This attack is so painfully reminiscent of the terrible attack at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris, and other ISIS-inspired attacks in recent years.”
Some lawmakers, like Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, and Rep. Norma Torres, D-Pomona, called for blood donations. Other lawmakers used the terror attack as their opportunity to rail against the gun laws that made it possible for Mateen, who had previously drawn the attention of the FBI, to obtain the weapons he needed to kill members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual community.
“Why would the average person need an assault-type rifle?” said Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Los Angeles said. “What’s worse, why would we as a country continue to allow just anyone to have one? This is not the first time someone has been able to kill multiple people in a short time all because the person had the kind of gun that was built for military or war. And that’s exactly what this man did last night – he waged war on the LGBT community. And we as a nation let him.”
Maggie Ybarra, 202-383-6048 @MolotovFlicker