Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson on Thursday said the man who carried out the terrorist attack in Orlando last week was “clearly not” working “on behalf of” the Islamic State terrorist group, but that such incidents do serve as a recruiting tool for terrorists.
Asked if the problem was about guns or terror, Mr. Johnson said: “All of the above.”
“Here we’re putting into focus ISIS, and really, was this individual working on behalf of ISIS? No, clearly not,” he said on CNN’s “New Day.” “But this is ISIS. ISIS is regionally contained, and yet they reach out, they say look, do this in the name of ISIS; this will help our cause.”
“He does do that, and it adds recruiting,” said Mr. Johnson, the former New Mexico governor. “It’s like the streaker on the football field. We no longer televise the streaker on the football field. We shouldn’t give attention to that.”
Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at a gay Orlando nightclub on June 12, had pledged allegiance to the group in a 911 call.
Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has said the attack appears to be “terrorist-inspired” and not “terrorist-directed.”
House Democrats have been staging a sit-in on the floor to demand a vote on gun-related legislation, such as a measure to ban people on government watch lists from buying guns. Mateen had been flagged by the FBI multiple times but had been removed from such a list.
Mr. Johnson said people should be “open to a discussion about keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.”
“I have not seen a proposal that ultimately might not keep guns out of my hands, if I wanted to have a gun for self-protection,” he said. “And that’s the problem with these lists, is these lists are subject to error.”
“Bottom line, you want to keep guns out of the hands of potential terrorists. You want to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill,” he said. “How do you accomplish that? I would be so curious to know what transpired between the FBI and the shooter in this case and what the FBI is coming up with regarding future action.”
Mr. Johnson said nothing is perfect, but if it makes things better, count on him to support it.
“Based on what you [were] saying about the list and the FBI being able to…put this guy on a list that would not have allowed him to buy a gun because of a suspicious track record, if you will. … I would be open to just how that reads and how that would actually be implemented,” he said.