US gun lobbyist claims guns had 'nothing to do' with Orlando shooting

Richard Feldmen ended a heated exchange with Newstalk's Chris Donoghue by terminating the call

A US gun lobbyist has said he does not accept that the death of 50 people in Orlando yesterday had anything to do with the gun used in the attack.

The AR-15 assault rifle used in the massacre is the same weapon that was used to kill 20 children in Sandy Hook Elementary School, and 12 people in a movie theatre in Colorado in 2012.

The gunman, Omar Mateen, had bought the rifle legally in the past week and entered a nightclub with it, and a handgun, before opening fire on those inside.

The 29-year-old had also been involved in an exchange of gun fire with a police officer beforehand but still managed to gain entry to Pulse Orlando.

There have been several calls for controls on semi-automatic gas powered guns, like the AR-15 - which can can shoot up to 30 rounds in a matter of seconds - led by President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden.

Gun controls have previously been blocked at legislative level in the US.

Photo of Orlando gunman Omar Mateen | Image: MySpace

Richard Feldman, who is president of the 'Independent Firearm Owners Association' (IFOA) in America, was interviewed on Newstalk Breakfast this morning.

Feldman was previously a member of the 'National Rifle Association' (NRA) and was part of a deal between President Clinton and gun manufacturers to put child safety clips on guns in 1997.

In an interview with presenter Chris Donoghue, Feldman said that America does not need gun controls.

"The United States needs to explore 'terrorism controls'," he stated. "This has nothing to do with the gun other than that was the particular tool he used."

"People who are going to misuse tools are going to misuse tools," he added.

"It could have been anything - if it wasn't a gun, we wouldn't be talking about banning it."

He went on to say that the biggest acts of terror in the US have been caused by planes and gasoline but that nobody has suggested outlawing those.

He was then asked if he would object to controls on this specific gun, and not all firearms. He replied: "It's a very common fire arm in the US. I own six or seven of them."

"It's like saying, 'Someone was killed by someone driving a Ford... let's ban Fords'."

When presenter Chris Donoghue stated that it was a "preposterous argument" to make, Feldmen argued that perhaps it was a "preposterous argument" for Ireland, but not for America.

"It's not really relevant what the rest of the world thinks about how we handle our own internal policy."

The IFOA president did reluctantly accept that if there were no guns people wouldn't be able to misuse them.

However, he followed up by saying: "There 100 million Americans who own about 300 million firearms and they're not about to give up any of them."

Feldman believes that if guns were taken away from American people "there would be a civil war the likes of which the country is not prepared for".

Following the Sandy Hook shooting, Feldman remarked that if the teachers were armed it may have prevented some of the casualties.

He reiterated his views today, saying: "They certainly wouldn't have been able to had they been unarmed."

Donoghue then made the point that there had been an exchange of gunfire between police and the Orlando gunman prior to the attack but the officer "couldn't get a kill shot or a disable shot".

He said that Feldman's point that good people with guns can stop bad people with guns had therefore failed in Florida.

The exchange grew heated as the US gun lobbyist was asked to give possibilities or solutions beyond saying "do nothing".

Richard Feldman eventually terminated the call.

The interview gained strong reaction with listeners getting in contact to express their anger.

One texter to the programme said that "he shouldn't be able to own anything more dangerous than plastic cutlery".

You can listen back to the full interview below or in the Newstalk Breakfast podcasts: