Obama: Gun Control and Terrorism Can't Be an 'Either/Or' Debate

Posted: Jun 13, 2016 12:05 PM

President Obama, speaking from the White House on Monday morning after being briefed by FBI Director James Comey, offered more reaction to Sunday's Orlando massacre.

"This is being treated as a terrorist investigation," he told reporters. "It appears the shooter was inspired by various extremist information." Those leads are being searched and exploited, he said.

The president noted he was especially concerned about the political rhetoric that will ensue after this weekend's tragedy - particularly the debate about whether to focus on combating terrorism or pushing gun control.

The president sighed that he can’t win by focusing on just one source of the issue. If he focuses on gun control, the NRA will accuse him of not wanting to talk about terrorism. On the other hand, if he talks about terrorism, then people ask him why he isn’t looking at gun control.

"My concern is we start getting into either or debate," Obama said. 

It's both, the president insisted. This attack grew out of "homegrown extremism," yet it also exploited how "easy it is" for radicalized individuals to obtain firearms.

"We have to go after terror organizations, but we also have to make sure it is not easy for someone who wants to harm people to obtain guns," he added. “We make it very easy for disturbed individuals to get powerful weapons very quickly – and that’s a problem."

The president said FBI Director Comey will offer more information about their findings later Monday afternoon.