Members Of Area Congressional Delegation Respond To Orlando

Jun 13, 2016

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), far right, earlier this year.
Credit Bret Jaspers / WSKG News

Area representatives in Congress are responding to the massacre in Orlando. 

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) said America’s gun policies makes it too easy for a terrorist to buy an automatic rifle, "to buy a weapon designed solely to kill large numbers of people instantly." 

Like many other Democrats, Gillibrand called for gun control legislation. "We need to have a ban on these military-style weapons. We need to have background checks. We need a federal crime against trafficking. All these changes would make crimes like this less possible," she told WAMC 's Allison Dunne.

Conversely, like many Republicans, Rep. Tom Reed (R) of Corning does not support gun control legislation. He said the tragedy should be seen through the lens of the world's fight against the Islamic State terror group.

"This isn’t about gun control," he told reporters. "This is about taking on the threat that’s represented in the movement that is based on a perversion of the Quran that is being utilized to carry out an extreme, radical Islamic terror-based activity. And what we need to do is unite and take that on because that’s what this is."

When asked if Congress might declare war against the Islamic State, Reed said this is a step in that direction. The group has control over parts of Syria and Iraq. Reed also said he supports changes to mental health policy as an area of potential compromise with Democrats.

President Obama said today that there is no clear evidence linking the attack to the Islamic State.  

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D) sent this statement yesterday:

“I am horrified and saddened by the appalling attack at the Orlando nightclub. We must double down on our efforts to prevent evil people from doing these dastardly acts. I am praying for the innocent victims and their families and the first responders who put their lives on the line to prevent even more casualties." 

The New York Times reports that Schumer and Senate Democrats are urging Congress to take up a gun control measure that failed last year. It would prevent people on terrorist watch lists or tied to terrorist groups from buying guns or explosives.