Why Are Flags at Half-Staff Today? President Joe Biden's Order Explained

President Joe Biden issued a national half-staff proclamation to honor the memory of those killed in the Indianapolis FedEx shooting.

The president issued the proclamation on Friday, April 16, after eight people were killed when a gunman opened fire inside the facility on Thursday evening.

Those killed were later identified as Matthew R. Alexander, 32; Samaria Blackwell, 19; Amarjeet Johal, 66; Jasvinder Kaur, 64; Jaswinder Singh, 68; Amarjit Sekhon, 48; Karlie Smith, 19 and John Weisert, 74. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department released the details on Friday evening.

It later emerged the shooter, Brandon Hole, had legally bought the weapons he used in the mass killing.

Following the mass shooting, President Biden said flags would fly at half-staff through to sunset on Tuesday, April 20. It is the fourth time in five weeks that the flag has been lowered to half staff.

The proclamation read: "As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on April 15, 2021, in Indianapolis, Indiana, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, April 20, 2021.

"I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations."

It comes after President Biden issued a statement on Friday about the mass shooting at the FedEx facility where he also railed against gun violence in the U.S.

He said: "Gun violence is an epidemic in America. But we should not accept it. We must act. Last week, I called on the Justice Department to better protect Americans from gun violence.

"I also urged Congress to hear the call of the American people - including the vast majority of gun owners - to enact common-sense gun violence prevention legislation, like universal background checks and a ban of weapons of war and high capacity magazines.

"Too many Americans are dying every single day from gun violence. It stains our character and pierces the very soul of our nation. We can, and must, do more to act and to save lives."

The statement continued: "God bless the eight fellow Americans we lost in Indianapolis and their loved ones, and we pray for the wounded for their recovery."

According to the American Flagpole and Flag Company, the flag should be hoisted to the top for a moment before it is lowered to the half-staff position. Before being lowered for the day, it should also be briefly raised to the peak before it is taken down.

The flag was lowered to half staff
The flag was lowered to half staff across the U.S. and its territories. In this photo, the flag above the White House flies at half staff in honor of the Indianapolis, Indiana shooting victims, in Washington, DC on April 16, 2021. MANDEL NGAN / Contributor/Getty