The shooter, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, brought a pistol and a semi-automatic military assault rifle into a popular gay nightclub frequented by Orlando’s LGBTQ community, killing 49 people and wounding 53.
Mateen, who was born in New York to Afghan parents, had previously been investigated by the FBI for his stated support of Daesh, also known as ISIS/Islamic State. Following the attack, US President Barack Obama said "We see no clear evidence that he was directed externally" by Daesh or any other extremist group, adding that, "As far as we can tell right now, this is certainly an example of the kind of homegrown extremism that all of us have been so concerned about for a very long time."
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said that, as president, she would focus on tightening gun restrictions, weeding out Americans like Mateen who sympathize with extremist groups even if there is no direct connection. "I believe weapons of war have no place on our streets," she said, reasoning that, "if the FBI is watching you for a suspected terrorist link, you shouldn't be able to just go buy a gun with no questions asked."
Trump used the shooting to reiterate his call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US, in spite of the fact that the shooter was American born. The presumptive Republican presidential candidate said Muslims should not enter the country unless they are screened "properly and perfectly," and added that, as president, he would "suspend immigration from areas of the world where there's a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe and our allies."
Trump also suggested that he wanted to protect Americans, "wherever they come from, wherever they were born."
Clinton stated that "Inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric and threatening to ban the families and friends of Muslim Americans, as well as millions of Muslim business people and tourists from entering our country, hurts the vast majority of Muslims who love freedom and hate terror."
Even though Republicans oppose gay marriage and are notoriously conservative on LGBTQ issues, Trump claimed to be more sensitive to the community than Clinton, stating, "Radical Islam is anti-woman, anti-gay and anti-American…I refuse to allow America to become a place where gay people, Christian people, and Jewish people are the targets of persecution and intimidation by radical Islamic preachers of hate and violence."
Clinton spoke directly to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender voters saying, "The terrorist in Orlando targeted LGBT Americans out of hatred and bigotry, and an attack on any American is an attack on all Americans…You have millions of allies who will always have your back,” she said. “And I am one of them."