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Obama Explains Why He’s Still Not Using Term ‘Radical Islam,’ Calls for Gun Control in Speech on Orlando Terror Attack


"What exactly would using this label accomplish?"

President Barack Obama pauses while speaking to members of the media in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, June 13, 2016, after receiving an update on the massacre at an Orlando nightclub that claimed 50 lives. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Barack Obama Tuesday chided Republicans for harping on his word choice when talking about the threat of terrorism — arguing that it is a "political distraction" to focus on the term "radical Islamic terrorism."

Former GOP candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump have criticized the Obama administration for not taking the threat posed by radical Islam seriously, which they say is evidenced by the president's unwillingness to use the term.

"That's the key, they tell us," Obama said in a news conference. "We can't beat ISIL unless we call them 'radical Islamists.'"

But using the term won't change anything, he said.

"What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to trying to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this?" Obama asked. "The answer is, none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away."

"There's no magic to the phrase 'radical Islam,'" Obama said. "It's a political talking point, not a strategy."

Obama added that U.S. politicians need to stop talking about being "tough on terror" and actually be tough on terror by making it more difficult for terrorists to buy assault weapons.

"We have to make it harder for people who want to kill Americans to get their hands on weapons of war that let them kill dozens of innocents," he said.

Obama added that the U.S. should take "commonsense steps" that will be "consistent with the Second Amendment," like reinstating the federal assault weapons ban and not allowing people who are on a federal no-fly list to buy guns.

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