Republican presidential candidates on Thursday pointed to terrorism and extremist ideologies as the reasons behind the deadly mass shooting in California, but largely avoided the issue of gun control after Democrats accused the GOP of being unwilling to take action to prevent future massacres.
“All of us are deeply concerned that this is yet another manifestation of terrorism, radical Islamic terrorism here at home,” Ted Cruz said at the Republican Jewish Forum in Washington. “Coming on the wake of the terror attack in Paris, this horrific murder underscores that we are at a time of war.”
“This is not about gun control, if you think the shooting in California is about gun control, then you don't understand what's going on in the world,” Lindsey Graham told reporters after addressing the group. “This is about two people who have bought into an ideology that is absolutely insane in nature and has to be combated.”
A Muslim married couple is believed to be responsible for the shooting deaths of 14 people at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California on Wednesday, though a motive is not yet known.
“It is possible this is terrorist related, but we don’t know,” President Barack Obama said in statement from the Oval Office on Thursday.
Donald Trump said it seems the attack was “probably” related to “radical Islamic terrorism, and I’ll tell you what, we have a president who refuses to use the term. He refuses to say it. There is something going on with him that we don’t know about.”
Republican 2016 candidates were quick to offer their thoughts and prayers as news of the shooting unfolded. But after the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. since the Sandy Hook elementary massacre in 2012, some Democrats said words were not enough.
“Your ‘thoughts’ should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your ‘prayers’ should be for forgiveness if you do nothing - again,” Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy tweeted.
“God Isn’t Fixing This,” blared the front page of the New York Daily News.
“I think we always want to pray for people that lose some,” John Kasich said, before adding that he did not think gun control would prevent shootings.
Each of the three Democrats running for president renewed their calls for gun reform in the hours after the attack.
“I refuse to accept this as normal. We must take action to stop gun violence now,” Clinton tweeted.