President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday met with families of the victims of Sunday's attack in Orlando.

Forty-nine people died and 53 were injured when a lone gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub.

Obama and Biden met privately with the families for about two hours. They later laid bouquets of flowers at a makeshift memorial for the victims in downtown Orlando.

“This was an act of terrorism but it was also an act of hate,” Obama told reporters. “This was an attack on the LGBT community. Americans were targeted because we’re a country that has learned to welcome everyone, no matter who you are or who you love. And hatred towards people because of sexual orientation, regardless of where it comes from, is a betrayal of what’s best in us.”

The president also reiterated his call for greater gun control measures.

“Today, once again, as has been true too many times before, I held and hugged grieving family members and parents, and they asked, why does this keep happening?” said Obama. “They pleaded that we do more to stop the carnage.”