Obama renews call for gun control after mass shooting
Following the murder of 14 people in San Bernardino, California, by two shooters praised by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as "supporters" of the terror group, President Obama is calling for a re-evaluation of the nation's gun laws.
"We know that the killers in San Bernardino used military-style assault weapons -- weapons of war -- to kill as many people as they could," the president said in a video released Saturday. "It's another tragic reminder that here in America it's way too easy for dangerous people to get their hands on a gun."
"Right now, people on the no-fly list can walk into a store and buy a gun. That is insane," the president said. "If you're too dangerous to board a plane, you're too dangerous, by definition, to buy a gun."
He called on Congress to close the loophole, saying that while the nation may not be able to prevent every tragedy, "at a bare minimum, we shouldn't be making it so easy for potential terrorists or criminals to get their hands on a gun that they could use against Americans."
The president also edged closer to labeling the massacre a terrorist attack, just a day after the FBI said it would investigate the mass shooting as an act of terrorism.
"It is entirely possible that these two attackers were radicalized to commit this act of terror," Mr. Obama said. "And if so, it would underscore a threat we've been focused on for years -- the danger of people succumbing to violent extremist ideologies."
Republicans, for their part, floated another possible solution to combat terror threats: strengthen the security of the U.S. visa waiver program.
"We have a major weakness in our visa-waiver program -- a glaring hole that we have to close," Rep. Candice Miller, R-Michigan, said in a video released Saturday.
The program allows foreign citizens of 38 partner countries -- including Belgium, France and the United Kingdom -- to travel to the U.S. without a visa. Each year, up to 20 million people enter the country in this manner.
"The next terrorist to attack our country could be only one flight away," the House Homeland Security Committee vice chair said. "And that's why the House is preparing to act on legislation to prevent our enemies from entering this country through our visa-waiver program."
The bill, according to Miller, would "strengthen the security" of the program, allowing the Department of Homeland Security to suspend a country's participation in the program if it fails to share counterterrorism information with the U.S. Among other measures, the legislation would also revoke visa waivers for citizens who have traveled to Iraq and Syria in the last five years.
The White House has also proposed changes to the visa waiver program with similar restrictions.
"The members of ISIS will use every means within their power to attack our country," Miller said. "And that's why we have to use every mean within our power to defend it."
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