Story highlights

President Barack Obama was briefed on the Orlando mass shooting, the White House said

The political world began to react Sunday morning to the shooting

CNN  — 

The rampage at a gay nightclub in Orlando Sunday drew universal condemnation from both parties but exposed deep divisions over how to respond, with President Barack Obama urging new gun laws and Republicans largely silent on the issue.

At least 49 people were killed and 53 more wounded in what is now the deadliest mass shooting in American history. Democrats, led by President Obama, made a now-familiar call for tighter gun laws. Many Republicans simply expressed their condolences and condemned the attack while Donald Trump blasted Obama and Hillary Clinton for refusing to blame the violence on radical Islam.

Here’s a look at how the political world responded to the attack.


Obama called the shooting an “act of terror” that served as a “sobering reminder that attacks on any American, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation is an attack on all of us.”

In remarks from the White House briefing room, Obama said, “No act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans.”

He also waded into the gun control debate. The Orlando shooting rampage, he said, is a reminder of how easy it is for someone to get a hold of a weapon that could kill people in a “school, or 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,” Obama added. “And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.”

The President was briefed Sunday morning by several officials, including FBI Director James Comey and Lisa Monaco, Obama’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, according to the White House. He also ordered American flags to be lowered to half staff to honor the victims.


Vice President Joe Biden was also briefed on the shooting and canceled a planned trip to Miami, Florida, to attend a fundraiser for Democratic National Committee chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Biden “offered his prayers for all those killed and injured in the shooting and sends his condolences to all the families and loved ones of the victims,” according to a statement from his spokesman.


Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, said Obama was far too timid in his White House appearance. Trump called on Obama to step down from the presidency and challenged Clinton to ratchet up her language about terror threats.

“President Obama disgracefully refused to even say the words ‘Radical Islam,’” Trump said in the statement. “For that reason alone, he should step down. If Hillary Clinton, after this attack, still cannot say the two words ‘Radical Islam’ she should get out of this race for the Presidency.”

Trump’s campaign canceled a planned rally Monday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, “due to the horrific tragedy that has just taken place in Orlando, Florida,” a campaign statement said. But the candidate will pivot the focus of a scheduled Granite State speech the same day. The speech will no longer focus on what Trump has called a litany of scandals involving Bill and Hillary Clinton. Now, according to a Trump campaign statement, it will “address this terrorist attack, immigration, and national security.”

Trump initially responded to news of the shooting through a series of tweets, including one that noted his early condemnation of radical Islam.

“Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”


Clinton’s campaign issued a hard-hitting statement accusing Trump of politicizing the shootings.

“This act of terror is the largest mass shooting in American