Speaking from the White House on Sunday afternoon, President Obama called the Orlando massacre “an act of terror and an act of hate.”
“This could have been any one of our communities,” said the President during the brief remarks.
His comments come after a gunman opened fire at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., killing 50 and hospitalizing 53. The shooting is being called the deadliest in American history.
This is Obama’s 18th presidential address to the American people after a mass shooting.
“The massacre is a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon to shoot someone in a school, in a place of worship, a movie theater, or a nightclub,” Obama said. “We have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. To actively do nothing is a decision as well.”
“We need to demonstrate that we are defined more as a country by the way they lived their lives than the man who took them away from us,” he said. “In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another. We will not give into fear and turn against one another.”
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The President also took the opportunity to speak directly to the LGBT community, which appears to have been specifically targeted in the attack. “This is an especially heartbreaking day for our friends, our fellow Americans, who are lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual,” he said. “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.”
Watch Obama’s full address below: