Constitution Daily

Smart conversation from the National Constitution Center

The Orlando shooting and the Constitution

June 13, 2016 by NCC Staff


(credit: Fibonacci Blue)
(credit: Fibonacci Blue)

In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, leaders on both sides of the aisle are calling for action. Here’s what you need to know.

Around 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 12, gunshots were fired at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. By midday, 50 people were dead, including the alleged shooter, and 53 others were wounded.

The presumptive major presidential nominees weighed in with sympathetic words and policy proposals.

In a prepared statement, businessman Donald Trump criticized President Barack Obama for failing to identify “radical Islam” in his remarks to the nation, and reiterated his belief that, “if we do not get tough and smart real fast, we are not going to have a country anymore.”

Trump also noted that the shooter was the son of Afghan immigrants, and said that, “since 9/11, hundreds of migrants and their children have been implicated in terrorism in the United States.” After last December’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, Trump called for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration to the U.S. “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” In a tweet, he reaffirmed that call:

For her part, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the incident “an act of hate,” highlighting that the attack took place at an LGBT club. “To all the LGBT people: know that you have millions of allies all over the country. … We will continue to fight for their right to live freely, openly and without fear.”

Clinton also reasserted her call for greater public safety restrictions on gun use, saying that “weapons of war have no place in our streets.” (Police say the Orlando shooter carried a handgun and AR-15 assault rifle, among other items.) Like Trump, Clinton echoed her remarks after the San Bernardino attack, at which point she called for the government “to take action now” on guns. 

In the weeks and months ahead, the country will continue to grapple with important questions about guns, immigration, terrorism, and more. The National Constitution Center will continue to be a nonpartisan resource for learning about the Constitution; watch this space for further analysis.


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