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Domestic terrorism

At first, they say, it seemed like just part of the music.

It was a Saturday night and the dance tracks had been pounding at the Pulse Orlando nightclub, which calls itself the city's hottest gay bar. A sharp, staccato sound, arriving shortly after 2 a.m. ET, didn't seem out of place.

"I thought it was a Ying Yang Twins song or something," club-goer Christopher Hansen told reporters. "It went with the beat almost."

In what has become an all-too-familiar ritual in the United States, President Obama said the mass shooting in Orlando on Sunday morning was an "act of terror and an act of hate."

"This is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American ... is an attack on all of us," Obama said during remarks from the White House briefing room. "No act of hate or terror will ever change who we are as Americans."

Obama also said that this shooting is a reminder of "how easy it to let people get their hands on a weapon" that will let them open fire on a place like a school.

A gunman opened fire on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., early Sunday morning, killing at least 50 people in the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history before being shot dead by police.

President Obama used a rare Oval Office address Sunday evening to speak to a worried nation about the evolving threat of terrorism and the growing influence of the Islamic State.

One of the biggest messages the president tried to communicate to the American people was that a fear of terrorist attacks must not translate into a fear of all Muslims and spark unnecessary targeting. But judging by the immediate response after the speech, Obama did little to bridge the partisan divide.

Inevitably, as news breaks of yet another international or domestic event — an explosion in Texas, a train derailment outside Philadelphia, a Molotov cocktail thrown into a nightclub in Egypt, a shooting in Colorado or California — there's one question never far from Americans' lips: "Is it terrorism?"

Even many who don't want to generalize wonder, "What do we know about the shooter — was he or she Muslim?"