Authorities are still investigating exactly what led to the killing of more than 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando on Sunday, but in the aftermath of the attack — the deadliest mass shooting in US history — the debate around national security and gun control is ramping up.
Both Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and Hillary Clinton, his likely Democratic opponent in the November general election, have warned the other candidate would make Americans more vulnerable to attacks.
Clinton promised she would make gun control laws more stringent. Trump has dismissed such a move as an unnecessary infringement on the rights of gun owners, saying everyone would be safer if more people had firearms.
Trump, who has proposed banning all Muslim immigrants from entering the United States, first tweeted "Really bad shooting in Orlando. Police investigating possible terrorism. Many people dead and wounded."
Horrific incident in FL. Praying for all the victims & their families. When will this stop? When will we get tough, smart & vigilant?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
Trump also fired back at President Barack Obama following his statement on the shooting.
Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism? If he doesn— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
Clinton also weighed in.
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
Clinton tweeted the same statement in Spanish. After more information about the shooting came out, the former secretary of state issued another more detailed statement.
"This was an act of terror," Clinton wrote. "For now, we can say for certain that we need to redouble our efforts to defend our country from threats at home and abroad. That means defeating international terror groups, working with allies and partners to go after them wherever they are, countering their attempts to recruit people here and everywhere, and hardening our defenses at home."
"This was also an act of hate," she added. "The gunman attacked an LGBT nightclub during Pride Month. To the LGBT community: please know that you have millions of allies across our country...We will keep fighting for your right to live freely, openly and without fear. Hate has absolutely no place in America."
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke to NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday morning and described the attacks as "unthinkable" and "horrific." Sanders also reiterated his position on gun control. "I've believed that we should not be selling automatic weapons which are designed to kill people, and we've got to do everything we can on top of that to make sure that guns do not fall into the hands of people who should not have them," he said.
Florida's Republican Senator Marco Rubio urged people in Central Florida to donate blood to help victims wounded in the shooting. Around 53 people were injured, and many are reportedly in critical condition.
Our prayers are with those injured and killed early this morning in horrifying act of terror in Orlando.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 12, 2016
Other politicians also tweeted their sympathies.
We pray for those brutally attacked in Orlando. While we must learn more about the attacker, the victims & families will not be forgotten.— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) June 12, 2016
The country's first openly lesbian senator, Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, released a statement saying the attack wasn't just on the LGBT community but on "the freedoms we all hold dear."
Reuters contributed to this report