POLITICS

Obama Warned Two Weeks Ago That Something Like The Orlando Shooting Could Happen

"I cannot prohibit those people from buying a gun," the president said.
President Barack Obama leaves the podium after speaking about the attack at an Orlando gay nightclub that left around 50 peop
President Barack Obama leaves the podium after speaking about the attack at an Orlando gay nightclub that left around 50 people dead.

Less than two weeks ago, President Barack Obama highlighted the potential for a tragedy like the Orlando shooting to happen, saying the FBI often knows about sympathizers of the self-described Islamic State -- but can't limit access to firearms due to contentious gun laws in America.

Speaking at a town hall meeting hosted by PBS News Hour on June 3, Obama was asked by an audience member why both his administration and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton "want to control and restrict and limit gun manufacturers [and] gun owners."

The president responded to the common line of questioning with a pointed attack against the National Rifle Association. The group's vehement opposition to restrictions on even the heaviest weaponry available has allowed people on the no-fly list to buy guns.

"I just came from a meeting today in the situation room, in which I've got people who we know have been on ISIL websites, living here in the United States, U.S. citizens," Obama said at the town hall, using another name for the Islamic State group. "And we're allowed to put them on the no-fly list when it comes to airlines, but because of the National Rifle Association, I cannot prohibit those people from buying a gun."

"This is somebody who is a known ISIL sympathizer, and if he wants to walk into a gun store or a gun show right now and buy as many weapons and ammunition as he can, nothing's prohibiting him from doing that even though the FBI knows who he is," the president said.

The scenario Obama described as a possibility has now come true. Omar Mateen, 29, bought a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun less than a week before he killed around 50 people at a gay nightclub in Florida. Mateen had been investigated by the FBI twice -- once in 2013 and again in 2014 -- but was still legally allowed to obtain the weapons.

Mateen had called 911 on Sunday to say he was affiliated with the Islamic State, although U.S. officials have said there isn't any evidence he actually has a direct link to the terrorist group. 

The New York Daily News also lambasted the NRA in its Monday cover story of the shooting. The outlet posted a headline reading "THANKS NRA" alongside images of the paper's other pointed front pages from past mass shootings.

Despite the president's call for "common sense" gun control, there have been 133 mass U.S. shootings in the 164 days of 2016. The event in Orlando was the deadliest such attack in U.S. history.

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