By now, you've probably heard all the gruesome details of this weekend's mass shooting in Orlando from every angle. Today, Joe Biden responded to the Orlando shootings, adding his voice to the sea of reactions in a press release. The unthinkable happened in Orlando this weekend, and yet it's something that we've been getting used to over the last two decades. Terrorist attacks in the U.S., mass shootings, hate crimes, gun violence: these are phrases we've we see in headlines on the regular, and yet it doesn't make it any less harrowing.
If you haven't be able to keep up with the ever-updating tragic news, here are a few things we now know for sure: In what is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism, a shooter opened fire at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando on June 12, 2016. This attack was the largest mass shooting in recent U.S. history, leaving 49 dead and another 53 wounded. The gunman, identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, was shot dead by the SWAT team on the scene.
There's a routine with news coverage or tragic events. First we hear it from reporters, then people on the ground; witnesses, living victims, next of kin. And then social media implodes. We read tweets. We see pictures uploaded. We see support badges and donation instructions. And then we hear from the administration, after they've had a moment to collect their thoughts. Their words are poised and eloquent — having had time to meditate on what's happened and to create a call to action for the future. It's when we hear from the White House that we realize the gravity of the situation. The global effect and weight becomes unavoidable. When Joe Biden responded to the Orlando shootings, he decided to focus on honoring the heroic actions, rather than the various other political and sensational angles being discussed in media. While all angles are important to cover, Biden's statement reminds us that even in the face of unexpected and unthinkable tragedy, we pull together, even closer, to help each other out.
Here are his words:
Last night, at least fifty innocent people gathering to celebrate love and life were brutally killed in an act of pure hate and unspeakable terror. Scores of others were injured in the attack. They were our brothers and our sisters; our friends, neighbors, and loved ones. In the coming days, we will learn more about these fifty souls and the lives they lived and the world they made better.
As the President made clear, we are closely monitoring and fully involved in the investigation of the country’s worst mass shooting. We are grateful for the heroic actions of the Orlando Police, first responders — and many bystanders — who charged into danger and saved lives; who rushed the wounded to hospitals in ambulances, in police cars, in the backs of pickup trucks, and carried others to safety. As in the midst of so much evil, their acts are a reminder of the best in our common humanity.
Jill and I offer our prayers and deepest condolences for all those affected by today’s horrific events. But our prayers are not enough to end these kinds of senseless mass shootings. The violence is not normal, and the targeting of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans is evil and abhorrent.
Our law enforcement and intelligence professionals are still gathering the facts, and we do not yet know what, if any, connection or inspiration there may be with terrorist organizations. But we do know this — we will never rest in our relentless campaign to bring to justice all who would do America harm. And even as we grieve and pursue justice, no act of terror — no despicable act of hate — can tear us asunder. Times of unspeakable tragedy and evil like this are the moments to remind the killers, and the world, of what is best in us, and what unites us.
May God give strength to the families, friends, and all those who grieve today, with broken hearts, but unbound resolve. And may God continue to watch over our great nation.
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