President Trump ordered flags to fly at half-staff Monday as the nation recoiled in horror at the worst mass shooting by a lone gunman in recent U.S. history.
Trump said in a nationally televised address less than 12 hours after the shooting began that; “We are joined together in sadness, shock and grief. It was an act of pure evil.”
He said he would travel to Las Vegas Wednesday to honor the victims and meet with survivors, one day after he is to visit hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.
“In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one. And it always has,” Trump told the nation. “We call upon the bonds that unite us, our faith, our family and our shared values. We call upon the bonds of citizenship, the ties of community and the comfort of our common humanity.
The president said; “Our unity cannot be shattered by evil, our bonds cannot be broken by violence and though we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today and always will forever.”
Standing in front of a portrait of George Washington, Trump offered words of sympathy to the families of the victims.
“In times such as these I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness. The answers do not come easy. But we can take solace knowing that even the darkest space can be brightened by a single light and even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope.”
Trump did not mention guns in his five-minute address, but the Las Vegas tragedy once again brought the issue of gun control back to center stage in the national debate.
Former Member of Congress Gabby Giffords. who was gravely wounded by a gun-wielding attacker in Arizona six years ago, spoke to reporters along with her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, pleading for bipartisan action on stricter gun laws. “The nation is counting on you,” Giffords said.
Kelly called the Las Vegas attack an act of domestic terrorism. “Weapons of war in the hands of a determined killer with a tactical advantage this was an ambush if there ever was one,” he said.