“Today as Americans, we grieve the brutal murder, the horrific massacre of dozens of innocent people,” he said.
Keeping his remarks relatively brief, Obama noted that the incident was a “further reminder how easy it is for people 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 that’s the kind of country we want to be,” he said. “To actively do nothing is a decision as well.”
Obama also highlighted the community targeted in the attack.
“This is an especially heartbreaking day for our friends, our fellow Americans who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender,” he said. “The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and sing, and to live.
“The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub, it is a place of solidarity and empowerment, where people come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights. So this is a sobering reminder that attacks on any Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, is an attack on all of us, and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country. No act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans.”
Obama noted that the FBI is on the scene and leading the investigation, and that the facts are still being collected, with no definitive judgment yet reached regarding the killer’s motive. “We know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate,” he said. “And as Americans, we are united in grief and in outrage, and in resolve to defend our people.”
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton released a statement regarding the shooting on Sunday. In addition to demanding redoubled efforts to protect the nation from further terrorist threats, Clinton called for keeping guns like those used in the attacks out of the hands of terrorists and violent criminals. “Weapons of war have no place on our streets,” she said.
Clinton also showed her support for the LGBT community. “Please know that you have millions of allies across our country. I am one of them,” she said. “We will keep fighting for your right to live freely, openly and without fear. Hate has absolutely no place in America.”