President Obama today described as "an act of terror" the mass shooting in Orlando overnight, which left at least 50 people dead.
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“We stand with the people of Orlando who have endured a terrible attack on their city,” Obama said at the White House. “This could have been any one of our cities.”
The White House said that the president was briefed early Sunday by his Homeland Security and counter-terrorism adviser Lisa Monaco on the attack, and asked for regular updates as the FBI works with the Orlando police.
Obama noted the shooting at the Pulse Orlando gay nightclub is the worst ever mass shooting on American soil, Sandy Hook previously held the highest death toll of any domestic shooting during his presidency.
The president has used past statements to rail against Congress' inaction on his push for gun control legislation, which he has called one of the greatest disappointments of his presidency. He reiterated the message to reporters in the White House.
"This massacre is therefore 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, in a house of worship, or in a movie theater or in a nightclub," Obama said. "And we have to decide if that's the kind of country we want to be. To actively do nothing is a decision as well."
Just last Thursday at an LGBT pride event at the White House, Obama remarked on the “incredible ... violence” members of the LGBT community face around the world.
"We’ve got work to do when LGBT people around the world still face incredible isolation and poverty and persecution and violence, and even death," Obama said. "We have work to make sure that every single child, no matter who they are or where they come from or what they look like or how they live, feels welcomed and valued and loved.”
Obama said the Pulse nightclub was more than just a nightclub, but was a symbol as "a place of solidarity and empowerment" for the gay community.
"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 on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country," Obama said.