Obama calls Orlando massacre an ‘act of terror’

After the shooting near the scene

WASHINGTON (AP) -— President Barack Obama has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at the White House and federal buildings until sunset Thursday “as a mark of respect for victims of the act of hatred and terror” at a gay Florida nightclub.

He’s also directing the same observance at embassies and other U.S. government facilities abroad.

Obama addressed the nation Sunday, calling the shooting “an act of terror” and an “act of hate.” Fifty people were killed, including the shooter, and 53 more hospitalized.

President Obama said the worst mass shooting in U.S. history is a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get a weapon that allows them to shoot people in a school, in a house of worship, a movie theater or a gay nightclub.

Speaking from the White House, Obama says the United States has to decide if that is the “country we want to be.” He says that doing nothing is a decision as well.

The shooting has thrust the topic of gun control back into focus as a presidential election nears. Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has called for expanding background checks to sales at gun shows and online purchases, and for reinstating a ban on assault weapons. Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has said the existing background check system should be fixed, not expanded, and that assault-weapons bans do not work.

RELATED COVERAGE: Massacre in Orlando

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