The Slatest

President Obama on Orlando Massacre: “An Act of Terror and an Act of Hate”

President Obama addressed the nation from the White House on Sunday afternoon, calling the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, “an act of terror and an act of hate.” It was at least the 15th time Obama has spoken to the country following a mass shooting during his time as president.

His short statement made specific mention of the LGBTQ community, as well as as another call for more gun control. “The shooter was apparently armed with a hand gun and a powerful assault rifle,” he said. “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 or in a house of worship or a movie theater or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.”

Here’s a rush transcript of his full remarks:

We as Americans, we grieve the brutal murder, horrific massacre, of dozens of innocent people. We pray for their families who are grasping for answers with broken hearts. We stand with the people of Orlando who have endured a terrible attack on their city. Although it’s still early in the investigation, we know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate. And as Americans, we are united in our resolve to defend our people.

I just finished a meeting with FBI Director [James] Comey and my homeland and national security advisers. The FBI is on the scene and leading the investigation in partner with local law enforcement. I’ve directed that the full resources of the federal government be made available for this investigation. We are still learning all the facts. This is an open investigation. We’ve reached no definitive judgment on the precise motivations of the killer. The FBI is appropriately investigating this as an act of terrorism. And I’ve directed that we must spare no effort to determine what, if any, inspiration or association this killer may have had with terrorist groups.

What is clear is that he was a person filled with hatred. Over the coming days we’ll uncover how and why this happens and we’ll go wherever the the facts lead us. This morning I spoke with my good friend, Orlando Mayor [Buddy Dyer], and I conveyed to them the deepest condolences of the American people. This could have been any one of our communities. I told him whatever help he and the people of Orlando need, they’re going to get it.

As a country, we’ll be there for the people of Orlando today and for all the days to come. We also express our profound gratitude to the police and first responders to rushed to harm’s way. Their courage and professionalism saved lives and kept the carnage from being worse. That’s the kind of sacrifice our law enforcement makes every single day for all of us, and we can never thank them enough.

This is an especially heartbreaking day for our friends and fellow Americans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance, sing and live. The place where they were attacked was more than a nightclub: It’s a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness and speak their minds and advocate for their civil rights. This is a reminder that attacks on any American, regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of integrity and dignity that help us as a country.

Today marks the most deadly shooting in American history. The shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and a powerful assault rifle. 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, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.

In the coming hours and days we’ll learn about the victims of this tragedy. Their names, their faces, who they were, the joy that they brought to families and to friends and the difference that they made in this world. Say a prayer for them. Say a prayer for their families. Let god give them the strength to bare the unbearable, that he give us all the strength to be there for them and the strength and courage to change. We need to demonstrate that we are defined more as a country by the way they live their lives than by the hate of the man who took them from us.

As we come together, we will draw inspiration from heroic and selfless acts. Friends to helped friends, took care of each other and saved lives in the face of hate and violence. We’ll love one another. We will not give in to fear or turn against each other. Instead, we’ll stand united as Americans to protect our people and defend our nation and to take action against those who threaten us. God bless the Americans we lost this morning. May it comfort their families. May God continue to watch over this country that we love. Thank you.

Read more from Slate on the Orlando nightclub shooting.