Appearing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders offered his comments on the shooting that occurred early Sunday morning at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The attack, during which a lone shooter killed 50 people and injured 53, has been declared the worst shooting in United States history.
When asked to speculate on the cause of the shooting — be it a hate crime, terrorism or something else — Sanders explained to NBC’s Chuck Todd that the real culprit behind the attack is the lack of gun control in America.
"I believe that in this country, we should not be selling automatic weapons which are designed to kill people," Sanders said Sunday. "We have got to do everything that we can on top of that to make sure that guns do not fall into the hands of people who should not have them, criminals, people who are mentally ill."
The Democratic presidential candidate called the shooting, which began at the gay nightclub Sunday at around 2:00 a.m., "horrific" and "unthinkable.” Sanders added that he believes exists "a very broad consensus in this country" between most gun owners that the U.S. government has "got to do everything that we can to prevent guns from falling into the hands of people who should not have them. That means expanding the instant background checks, it means doing away with the gun show loophole, it means addressing the straw man provision. I think there is a wide consensus to move forward in that direction."
Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump also weighed in on the tragedy Sunday morning on Twitter.
Woke up to hear the devastating news from FL. As we wait for more information, my thoughts are with those affected by this horrific act. -H— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 12, 2016
Really bad shooting in Orlando. Police investigating possible terrorism. Many people dead and wounded.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
The shooter, whom police identified as Omar Mateen, 29, used an assault rifle and a handgun to carry out the attack. Police also confirmed that the shooter had “some type of device” on his person.
The Pulse nightclub shooting is sure to become a central topic of political discussion as the presidential primaries draw to a close, with the final primary taking place Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
When asked Sunday if he is still an active presidential candidate, Sanders told Todd Sunday, "I am doing everything I can ... to make sure that Trump does not become president."
Sanders is scheduled to meet with Clinton Tuesday evening.
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