Obama voices anger over Ore­gon school shoot­ing, urges gun con­trol


U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama on Thurs­day voiced his anger and sad­ness af­ter the coun­try’s latest deadly shoot­ing, this time at an Ore­gon com­mu­nity col­lege, and made another im­pas­sioned plea for gun con­trol leg­is­la­tion.

“There has been another mass shoot­ing in Amer­ica,” a stony-faced Obama said in re­ac­tion to the shoot­ing by a male gun­man at Um­pqua Com­mu­nity Col­lege in ru­ral Rose­burg, which left at least nine dead.

“Some­how this has be­come rou­tine,” said the pres­i­dent. “We be­come numb to this.”

“The re­port­ing is rou­tine. My re­sponse here at this podium ends up be­ing rou­tine,” said the pres­i­dent, mak­ing his 15th state­ment on a mass shoot­ing since tak­ing of­fice in 2009.

“And what’s be­come rou­tine, of course, is the re­sponse of those who op­pose any kind of com­mon sense gun leg­is­la­tion.”

Obama re­it­er­ated his frus­tra­tion at the fail­ure of the pro-gun Repub­li­can Party that con­trols the U.S. Congress to back new gun con­trol mea­sures, and threw down the gaunt­let to law­mak­ers.

“Prayers are not enough,” he said. “We can ac­tu­ally do some­thing about it, but we’re go­ing to have to change our laws.”

“This is a po­lit­i­cal choice we make,” Obama said. “This is not some­thing I can do my­self. I have to have a Congress and state leg­is­la­tures and gover­nors who are will­ing to work with me on this.”

“It can­not be this easy for some­body who wants to in­flict harm on other peo­ple to get his or her hands on a gun.”

‘It doesn’t make sense’

School shoot­ings have be­come a dis­turb­ing re­al­ity of Amer­i­can life and many fa­cil­i­ties have re­in­forced se­cu­rity in re­cent years, es­pe­cially in the wake of the Sandy Hook mas­sacre in 2012.

When 26 peo­ple — among them 20 young chil­dren — were killed in the Sandy Hook ele­men­tary school in New­town, Con­necti­cut in one of the worst-ever school mas­sacres, many thought it would mark a turn­ing point in the U.S. de­bate on gun con­trol.

As Amer­ica reeled in shock, Obama tasked his Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den to push for move­ment on the is­sue in Congress.

But within just four months, hopes for a mean­ing­ful re­form were dashed, af­ter sen­a­tors re­jected a law that would have made crim­i­nal and men­tal health back­ground checks com­pul­sory for gun pur­chases online and at gun fairs — a ma­jor po­lit­i­cal set­back for the pres­i­dent.

A fu­ri­ous Obama called it a “shame­ful day for Washington,” plac­ing the blame squarely on the pow­er­ful U.S. gun lobby.

Obama also called the U.S. media to ac­count, ask­ing them to set the hu­man cost of gun vi­o­lence side by side with the — far lower — num­ber of peo­ple killed in ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

The United States has the high­est num­ber of firearms per capita of the de­vel­oped world, with close to 89 guns in cir­cu­la­tion per 100 peo­ple — with­out count­ing po­lice and mil­i­tary weaponry.

Ac­cord­ing to the Brady Cam­paign to Pre­vent Gun Vi­o­lence, an av­er­age of 32,000 peo­ple died an­nu­ally from firearms from 2009 to 2013, in­clud­ing about 20,000 sui­cides per year.

Be­yond the po­lit­i­cal

class, the pres­i­dent ap­pealed di­rectly to the public — voic­ing hope that per­haps this shoot­ing could be the one that pro­vokes a shift in mind­set.

“When Amer­i­cans are killed in mine dis­as­ters, we work to make mines safer. When Amer­i­cans are killed in floods and hur­ri­canes, we work to make com­mu­ni­ties safer,” Obama said.

“When roads are un­safe, we fix them. To re­duce auto fa­tal­i­ties, we have seat belt laws be­cause we know it saves lives.”

“The no­tion that gun vi­o­lence is some­how dif­fer­ent, that our free­dom and our con­sti­tu­tion pro­hibits any mod­est reg­u­la­tion of how we use a deadly weapon ... It doesn’t make sense.”

“So tonight,” Obama said, “I’d ask the Amer­i­can peo­ple to think about how they can get our gov­ern­ment to change these laws.

“And to save lives. And to young peo­ple grow up.”



(Top) U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama pauses as he speaks in the Brady Press Brief­ing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., Thurs­day, Oct. 1, about the shoot­ing at the com­mu­nity col­lege in Ore­gon. (Above) U.S. Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den pauses while speak­ing at the fifth an­nual Concordia Sum­mit in New York, Thurs­day, while briefly com­ment­ing on a deadly shoot­ing at Um­pqua Com­mu­nity Col­lege, in Rose­burg, Ore­gon, that hap­pened ear­lier in the day.

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