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Political Reaction To Orlando: Gun Bills, Clinton And Trump


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. We're going to start the program today by hearing about the political response to the shooting last week in Orlando. Once again, as has happened before after similar episodes of mass violence, debates about gun control have been revived.

Tomorrow, the Senate is expected to vote on four gun measures, two from Democrats and two from Republicans. Legislation is still far away from reaching the president's desk, but tomorrow's votes will be a rare example of movement on the issue. Here's NPR's Mara Liasson.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Moderate Republican Senator Susan Collins is pushing a compromise. It would stop some people suspected of terrorist ties from buying firearms and not require probable cause, which Democrats think is too high a burden of proof. Collins says her compromise is designed to avoid what happened in the Senate last year after the San Bernardino shootings - nothing. And there were signs that the reaction to Orlando might create an opening.

Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy held the Senate floor for 15 hours last week to force the votes. Post-Orlando polls show majorities of voters supporting both a ban on assault weapons and laws that would bar suspected terrorists from buying firearms. That's typical of public opinion right after a mass shooting. But this time, there was a brand-new element. The presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party seemed to be adopting the Democrats' position on gun control.

On Wednesday, Donald Trump tweeted that he'd be meeting with the NRA to discuss keeping people on the terrorist watch list or No Fly List from buying guns, which took the NRA by surprise. Trump also took a stand in the other direction, saying at a rally on Wednesday in Atlanta that the situation in Orlando would've turned out differently if clubgoers were armed.


DONALD TRUMP: And if the bullets were going in the other direction, aimed this guy who was just open target practice -

LIASSON: The NRA's top lobbyist, Chris Cox, was pressed about that on ABC this morning, and he said that idea defies common sense.


CHRIS COX: No one thinks that people should go in a nightclub drinking and carrying firearms.

LIASSON: This was a week where even one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history couldn't push politics aside. Trump and his tag team of opponents - Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama - sparred over gun control and terrorism. Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan once again found themselves in a bind, forced to explain why they disagreed with Trump on his proposed Muslim ban but still wanted him to be president. Other Republicans in Congress took to sprinting down halls and ducking into elevators to avoid reporters altogether.

We're still waiting for new poll numbers to tell us whether the Orlando massacre helped Clinton or Trump, but we do have one important number already - some 25 million. That's the minimum amount of dollars that Hillary Clinton and her allies are spending on advertising in battleground states. So far, Donald Trump hasn't run any battleground ads at all. Will that matter?

Clinton is waging a traditional campaign, using the most sophisticated tools money can buy to target and turn out voters. Trump thinks all that is highly overrated. He believes his unorthodox approach based on free media and big rallies will be more effective. Marla Liasson, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mara Liasson is a national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC — focusing on the White House and Congress — and also reports on political trends beyond the Beltway.