Trump says Orlando shooting wouldn't have been so deadly if clubgoers had guns

From opposite corners of the American southeast, rivals Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are expected to trade barbs today about the now-mingled debates over national security, gun control and LGBT rights.

'Not one of Donald Trump's reckless ideas would have saved a single life,' Hillary Clinton says

Donald Trump says there would have been less 'carnage' in Orlando on Sunday had clubgoers been armed. (Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

If patrons of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando had been armed, the shooter would not have been able to kill so many of them, Donald Trump said Wednesday.

Speaking at a private event in the heart of Atlanta's gay community, the Republican presumptive presidential candidate promised to protect the U.S. second amendment on the heels of Sunday's mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Florida. 

His Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has used the attack to reiterate calls for a ban on assault rifles.

"If some of those people who were in the club on that night had guns strapped to their waists or strapped to their ankles, and if the bullets were going in the other direction aimed at this guy, who was just open target practice, you would have had a situation that was always horrible, but nothing like the carnage that we all as a people suffered this weekend," Trump told supporters at the Atlanta rally.

"The LGBT community, the gay community, the lesbian community, they are so much in favour of what I've been saying over the last three or four days."

Trump has repeatedly blamed the Orlando attack — in which which the U.S.-born Omar Mateen gunned down 49 people before being shot dead by police — on an immigration system he considers broken. Mateen's parents immigrated to the U.S. from Afghanistan.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have offered drastically different proposals for stemming the threat of terrorism and gun violence in the U.S. (Randall Hill/Nick Oxford/Reuters)

"He was born here, but his parents weren't, and his ideas weren't born here — they were born somewhere else," he said to applause.

"We have to have people come here that cherish us, that love us, that want to do things, that don't want to destroy us."

He also called for surveillance of mosques as part of U.S. law enforcement efforts to prevent terrorism, and stood by his remarks on banning Muslim immigrants that others in his party have criticized.

'Radical Islamic terrorism'

The Republican candidate continued his tirade against President Barack Obama and Clinton for not using the words "radical Islamic terrorism" to describe the Orlando shooting and other ISIS-inspired attacks.

The president has dismissed the criticism as a "political talking point" and Republican "yapping," saying "there is no magic to the phrase 'radical Islam.'"

"It does make a difference," Trump said. "It makes a big difference, because unless you're willing to discuss and talk about the real nature of the problem and name the problem — radical Islamic terrorism — you're never going to solve the problem."

Clinton said on Wednesday that Trump's rhetoric had grown "even more inflammatory" in recent days. She said the United States counts on partners in majority-Muslim countries to help fight terrorism.

"Not one of Donald Trump's reckless ideas would have saved a single life in Orlando," Clinton said at an event for U.S. military families in Virginia.

Clinton vigorously reiterated her call for banning assault weapons and said, if elected, she would prioritize stopping "lone wolf" attackers and ramp up the U.S. air campaign against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

"Weapons of war have no place on our streets," she said Monday. 

She also called out U.S. partners in the region by name — saying Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar must stop their citizens from funding terrorism.

With files from Reuters