One of the nation’s most powerful gun control groups said Donald Trump’s rhetoric "fuels hatred" that leads to violence such as the terrorist attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando on Saturday, during a conference call with reporters on Monday.
"We want to hold this call today, because the American people are coming together like never before … to say that we have had enough," said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "We’ve had enough of politicians like Donald Trump who preach hatred. We’ve had enough of policies that allow people filled with hatred to carry out tragedies like the one in Orlando."
"People like Donald Trump are fueling the fires of hatred, and America’s lax gun policies are making sure that anyone who hates can easily get a gun," Gross added. "And that is what proves to be the devastating combination here."
Omar Mateen, a former security guard who pledged allegiance to ISIS, gunned down 49 people at Pulse Orlando, a popular gay nightclub, on Saturday night. Mateen was killed by SWAT team members following a standoff.
The attack, the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, has spurred debate over anti-terrorism policies and gun control. The Brady Campaign’s conference call with religious leaders on Monday was intended to "address the Orlando shooting and to call for support for the entire community." Other participants on the call were Rev. Kathy Schmitz of the First Unitarian Church of Orlando and Dr. Betty Deas Clark, pastor of the Charleston AME church.
"We just can’t allow it anymore, we can’t allow people like Donald Trump to fuel that hatred, and we can’t let it be so easy for people to get guns," said Gross. "We can do so much better than this and the American public overwhelmingly agrees."
The Brady Campaign advocates for stronger gun control, including laws that would prevent individuals on the "no-fly list" or those convicted of domestic violence from purchasing guns.
Mateen was previously on the FBI’s radar after former colleagues complained he used threatening language. Those investigations were closed at the time of the attack. The Brady Campaign said he was not on the federal "no-fly list." After Saturday’s shooting, Mateen’s ex-wife said he was physically abusive in an interview with ABC News, but he was not convicted of domestic assault.
Trump responded to the attack on Saturday by calling for tougher anti-terrorism policies. The Republican presidential candidate has previously supported a temporary ban on Muslim immigration and a stronger military response to ISIS, and has criticized President Obama for failing to use the term "Islamic terrorism."
"Praying for all the victims & their families. When will this stop? When will we get tough, smart & vigilant?" Trump wrote on Twitter, adding that he was "right on radical Islamic terrorism."
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also expressed condolences to the victims of the attacks and their families, and called for a ban on assault weapons. The Brady Campaign said it is not currently focused on reinstating an assault weapons ban.
The Brady Campaign did not take a question from the Washington Free Beacon during the call and did not respond to follow up questions by email.