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Donald Trump's and Hillary Clinton's responses to Orlando shooting differ widely

Published 13/06/2016

Donald Trump said President Barack Obama should resign over the Florida nightclub massacre (AP)
Donald Trump said President Barack Obama should resign over the Florida nightclub massacre (AP)

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have offered drastically different proposals for stemming the threat of terrorism and gun violence following the fatal shootings at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Mr Trump focused heavily on the nation's broken immigration system in his fiery address, although the Orlando gunman was born in the United States.

The presumptive Republican nominee redoubled his call for temporarily banning Muslims from the United States, saying he would lift the ban once the government could "properly and perfectly" screen immigrants.

Going further, Mr Trump said he would also "suspend immigration from areas of the world where there's a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe and our allies".

Mrs Clinton said she would prioritise stopping "lone wolf" attackers as president - those who may be radicalised without having direct contact or orders from a larger terror network.

Overseas, the presumptive Democratic nominee called for ramping up the US air campaign targeting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and pointedly called out US partners in the region by name, saying Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar must stop their citizens from funding terrorism.

Mrs Clinton also vigorously reiterated her call for banning assault weapons, like one of the guns the Orlando attacker used.

"I believe weapons of war have no place on our streets," she said.

Mrs Clinton's address was measured and sober. While she drew implicit contrasts with Mr Trump, she never mentioned him by name, declaring: "Today is not a day for politics."

Mr Trump felt differently, hammering Mrs Clinton repeatedly in his remarks. He accused her of wanting to abolish the Second Amendment - in connection with her proposals for tougher gun laws - and said she cannot claim to be supportive of gays and lesbians when she supports allowing immigration from countries where they are discriminated against.

"Hillary Clinton can never claim to be a friend of the gay community," he said.

The businessman robustly defended the rights of gay and lesbian Americans, saying he would be a "better friend" to the community than Mrs Clinton.

The assault at a gay nightclub was "an assault on the ability of free people to live their lives, love who they want and express their identity," he said.

Mr Trump's embrace of gay and lesbian Americans was at odds with many in his own party, who oppose gay marriage and other legal protections.

The Orlando attacks were the worst mass shooting in American history, leaving 49 people dead and dozens more injured. Authorities say Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old American-born Muslim, was probably inspired by foreign terrorist organisations, though there was no evidence that he had been directed by any network to carry out the attacks.

Mr Trump said Mateen was "born an Afghan" despite having been born in New York. The gunman's parents came to the US from Afghanistan before he was born.

The Republican did not repeat suggestions he had made in earlier television interviews that US President Barack Obama may not be taking tougher action against terrorism because he sympathises with the perpetrators.

"He doesn't get it or, or he gets it better than anybody understands," Mr Trump said. "It's one or the other. And either one is unacceptable."

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From Belfast Telegraph