Barack Obama On Orlando Shooting: ‘We Will Not Give In To Fear’

Barack Obama On Orlando Shooting: ‘We Will Not Give In To Fear’
June 13
12:30 2016

Igor BobicAssociate Politics Editor, The Huffington Post – President Barack Obama called Sunday’s mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, an “act of terror and an act of hate.” He added that while authorities have not reached a definitive judgement as to the shooter’s motivation, the FBI would be investigating the matter as an act of terrorism.

“What is clear, he was a person filled with hatred,” Obama said of the shooter, who was an American citizen. “Over the coming days we will uncover how and why this happened.”

“This could have been any one of our communities,” he said. “As a country, we will be there for the people of Orlando, today, tomorrow and for all the days to come.”

The president noted the shooting took place at an “especially heartbreaking” time during LGBT pride month. He said the place where it happened was more than a nightclub, but a “place of solidarity and empowerment” where people went to “raise awareness, to speak their minds and to advocate for their civil rights.”

“This is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation, is an attack on all of us, and the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country,” he said.  “No act of terror will change who we are or the values that make us Americans.”

Obama also called on Americans to consider how much human life they are willing to part with before taking legislative action to curb gun violence. Noting that the shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and an assault rifle, he called the massacre “a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub.”

“We have to decide if this is the kind of country we want to be. To actively do nothing is a decision as well,” he said.

The president closed his remarks by urging Americans not to give in to terror.

“In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another. We will not give into fear,” he said.

In what police are calling the worst shooting in American history, a gunman killed 50 people and injured at least 53 at Pulse, a gay nightclub in downtown Orlando. Authorities say Omar Mateen stormed the club around 2 a.m. Sunday and opened fire. He was later killed by police.

According to NBC News, Mateen had called 911 moments before the shooting to pledge allegiance to the leader of the so-called Islamic State. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, also said he was told in a briefing that the gunman had “declared his allegiance to ISIS.”

The White House said earlier that Obama had been briefed on the situation by Lisa Monaco, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism.

According to CBS’ Mark Knoller, the president’s statement on Orlando is his 20th following a mass shooting. Watch a HuffPost video compilation of his previous addresses here.

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