President Trump has falsely claimed that the mass shooting tragedy at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in 2016 was made worse because the club was purportedly a “gun-free zone,” where none of the patrons or employees were armed with firearms.
In a televised White House meeting with congressional leaders, Trump opined about the dangers that may result from placing additional restrictions on people’s Second Amendment rights.
“Ninety-eight percent of all mass shootings in the United States since 1950 have taken place in gun-free zones; where guns were not inside the school, or, as an example, you take Pulse Nightclub,” Trump said. “If you had one person in that room that could carry a gun and knew how to use it, it wouldn’t have happened or certainly not to the extent that it did where he was just in there shooting and shooting and shooting and they were defenseless.”
But Trump, who has made that claim previously, failed to acknowledge that there was an armed, off-duty police officer at the club on the night of the attack. Adam Gruler was working at his second job as a security guard for the LGBTQ nightclub on June 12, 2016, and reportedly exchanged gunfire with shooter Omar Mateen outside the club’s entrance.
The Pulse attack, which is the second largest mass shooting in U.S. history, killed 49 people, most of them members of the LGBTQ community.
Trump — and many Republicans — often like to cite examples of places, such as schools, that are deemed “gun-free zones” where mass shootings have occurred to argue that arming people is preferable to requiring extensive background checks for gun purchasers or limiting access to certain types of firearms. Republicans do not believe such measures will work to curb gun violence, and have instead argued that places like schools should allow employees to carry concealed weapons.
During the course of the meeting on gun violence, Trump laid out solutions he believes will help reduce the incidence of mass shootings, including allowing school employees to carry concealed weapons, limiting the ability of people with mental illnesses to purchase firearms, and raising the age at which a person can buy an assault rifle from 18 to 21, reports The Huffington Post.
The LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD issued two tweets objecting to Trump’s characterizations of the Pulse massacre and calling him out for spreading false information.
“@realdonaldtrump is continuing to spread lies about the Pulse nightclub shooting and spouting @NRA talking points instead of fighting for gun reform that would actually protect marginalized communities that are most targeted by gun violence,” GLAAD tweeted, providing a shortened video clip of Trump’s remarks.
.@realDonaldTrump is continuing to spread lies about the Pulse nightclub shooting and spouting @NRA talking points instead of fighting for gun reform that would actually protect marginalized communities that are most targeted by gun violence. pic.twitter.com/nFoWcx8tYM
— GLAAD (@glaad) February 28, 2018
The organization subsequently followed up with another tweet linking to a FactCheck.org article where Trump’s claim was debunked that detailed Gruler’s firefight with Mateen.
— GLAAD (@glaad) February 28, 2018
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