Doing nothing is a choice.
That was President Obama’s message to the country in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting ever on American soil.
The president spoke for just over five minutes, and said the FBI is “appropriately investigating this as an act of terrorism.” He noted that while we have much to learn about the killer’s motives and connections, this shooting isn’t an anomaly.
The president had already given 19 statements like this over the course of his two terms in office, by CNN’s count—including after the slaughter of schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut, after the mass killing of churchgoers at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and after the murders of moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado.
His comments sounded all too familiar, even to his own ears. Because as Obama spoke he wasn’t emotional or angry, as after previous mass shootings. Instead, he just seemed exhausted.
The president said the shooter apparently had an assault rifle and a handgun.
“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 in a movie theater, or in a nightclub,” he said. “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.”
The president also noted that the nightclub where the shooting happened is deeply important to Central Florida’s LGBT community.
“The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live. The place they were attacked is more than a nightclub,” he said. “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.”
He continued, “So 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 ordered flags at the White House to be lowered to half-mast. His calls for stricter gun laws are unlikely to be heeded; previous mass shootings have done little to change the fact that the overwhelming majority of congressional Republicans oppose legislation that makes it harder to buy guns.
Donald Trump, of course, also had a take and an inability to resist a moment to attack Obama—national tragedy be damned.
“Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism?” he tweeted during the president’s speech. “If he doesn’t he should immediately resign in disgrace!”
Trump fan Newt Gingrich chimed in with his own tweet: “President Obama’s statement on Orlando is as false as his statement on Benghazi. Murderer pledged allegiance to ISIS, yelled Allahu Akbar.”