WASHINGTON – As thousands in Orlando turned out Monday to mourn 49 people killed inside an LGBTQ nightclub, federal investigators examined possible motives for the gunman who committed the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
The White House and the FBI said 29-year-old Omar Mateen – an American born Muslim – appears to be a “homegrown extremist” who had touted support not just for the Islamic State, but other radical groups that are its enemies.
FBI Director James Comey said the agency sees no indication that this was a plot directed from outside the United States, nor is there any indication that Mateen was part of any kind of network.
On Monday Chautauqua County’s representative in Congress spent 30-plus minutes in conference call with regional media, offering his reaction and thoughts on the Orlando mass shooting.
Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning, NY 23) renewed his calls to defeat radical Islamic terrorism, saying more needs to be done to help law enforcement work toward preventing these types of attacks within our own borders.
“We are engaged in a war – a war of terror that is based upon a radical Islamic terrorist jihadist effort, where individuals are committed to an ideology that doesn’t represent the entire Muslim religion, but represents an extreme ideology, an extreme terroristic-based path of destruction of America and American way of life, that is represented by this shooter,” Reed said.
The Corning Republican also acknowledged that while Mateen was not an immigrant, he added that the threat represented by him will not be going away.
“If we continue to think that this threat is not amongst us and is also trying to get here to American soil, I think we’re going to potentially expose ourselves to greater risks going forward,” Reed said. “So securing our border has to be part of this conversation.”
Reed added that the U.S. also needs to commit more intelligence resources in locating and eliminating the ISIS threat in the Middle East so that it couldn’t influence others to act on its behalf, either in the U.S. or in other allied nations.
WRFA Specifically asked Reed if anything can be done to prevent mass shootings in general, given that so many have taken place over the years which were not connected to radical Islamic terrorism. He agrees that a large number of mass shootings were not perpetrated by Islamic terrorists, adding that they were committed by those suffering from mental illness. As a result, he said the country needs to focus on identifying and helping those with mental illness rather than focusing on creating federal gun restrictions.
“It’s not about gun control,” Reed said. “It’s about getting assistance to those that have suffered from mental illness. I view it as a mental condition. I view is as something where if someone had a medical condition that required special oversight by government officials, we need to make sure that that is part of the conversation. But we respect the due process and freedoms of those individuals as we go forward.”
While Congressman Reed said the country needs to focus on going after terrorists, his Western New York colleague in the house and former Chautauqua County Representative Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo) told a Buffalo television station that Mateen should not have been able to purchase the weapons he used to begin with, calling the semi-automatic rifle and semi-automatic handgun a “weapon of mass destruction” – adding that perhaps nobody should be able to purchase them.
Governor Andrew Cuomo also stated that congress needs to look into passing legislation similar to New York’s SAFE Act.