Obama decries Orlando shooting as an ‘act of terror’

‘The place where they were attacked … was a place of solidarity and empowerment’

President Barack Obama speaks about the massacre at a Orlando nightclub during a news conference at the White House in Washington, Sunday, June 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Barack Obama speaks about the massacre at a Orlando nightclub during a news conference at the White House in Washington, Sunday, June 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama decried the deadliest mass shooting in American history on Sunday as an “act of terror” and an “act of hate” targeting a place of “solidarity and empowerment” for gays and lesbians. He urged Americans to decide whether this is the kind of “country we want to be.”

Speaking hours after the shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Obama said the FBI would investigate the shooting as terrorism but that the alleged shooter’s motivations were unclear. He said the U.S. “must spare no effort” to determine whether the suspect, identified by authorities as Omar Mateen, had any ties to extremist groups.

“What is clear is he was a person filled with hatred,” Obama said of the alleged shooter.

Obama said this was “an especially heartbreaking day” for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and a sobering reminder that an attack on any American is an attack on all, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

“The shooter targeted a night club where people came together to be with friends to dance and to sing—to live,” Obama said. “The place where they were attacked is more than a night club. It was a place of solidarity and empowerment, where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds and to advocate for their civil rights.”

For Obama, the hastily arranged remarks were the latest in what’s become a tragically familiar routine. Since he took office in 2009, Obama has appeared before cameras more than a dozen times following mass shootings and issued written statements after many others. The massacres have brought him to places like Newtown, Connecticut; Tucson, Arizona; and Charleston, South Carolina, to offer condolences and implore the nation to finally get serious about stemming gun violence.

After a gunman in Newtown killed 20 first graders and six adults in 2012, Obama dedicated much of the start of his second term to pushing legislation to expand background checks, ban certain assault-style weapons and cap the size of ammunition clips. That measure collapsed in the Senate, and since then, the political makeup of Congress have made new gun laws appear out of reach. Still, Obama has sought to take incremental steps using his own authority to tighten rules for obtaining a gun.

Obama spoke from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, named after the former press secretary who was shot and permanently disabled in an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

He also signed a proclamation on Sunday ordering flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Thursday in honour of the victims.

Vice-President Joe Biden cancelled a planned trip Sunday to Miami to hold a fundraiser for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. Biden’s office said he would remain at his family home in Delaware while receiving updates about the shooting before returning to Washington in the evening.



Obama decries Orlando shooting as an ‘act of terror’

  1. “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” As individuals and as a culture isn’t it well past time to discard the idea born in our personal and cultural infancy? So many who diligently upgrade the software running so much
    of their lives still cling to philosophical operating systems gestated in primitive times and primitive minds – clinging to values so obviously the thoughts and misunderstandings of humanity’s early childhood.

    If we continue to honour ‘childish things’ born in savage ignorant times we condemn our children to doom.
    To try to use primitive nomadic codes as the blueprints, bricks and mortar for complex civil societies? Mad. Utterly mad.

    And remember. . . this Orlando tragedy is committed by primitive theocracies everywhere. This is a crime in our lands because, and only because, our lands are secular – our laws striving for humane goodness not for inhuman ‘godliness’.

    The future requires both hands to grasp – it will drop and shatter if we waste one hand clinging to the past.

  2. Act of hate? Absolutely. Act of terror? Based on the evidence revealed so far – no. It’s far too early to make that call. If he were Christian, we wouldn’t have heard that word used; not at this stage, anyway.

    • Hatred leads bullies to terrorize their victims. Somehow in your mind the word now means something very specific and no longer means what it always did in the English language. Terrorism doesn’t have to have a political or religious agenda. It doesn’t to be organized. Stalkers terrorize their victims. Since when did the word come to exclude the behaviour of terrorizing others for no other reason then that one hates what they are or what they stand for. It is about the act no who perpetrated it.

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