President Obama addressed the shooting at a community college in Oregon that killed at least 13 people Thursday, making a fiery call for gun control.
“We are the only advanced country in the world that sees these mass shooting every few months,” Obama said. Over the second term of his presidency, not a single week has gone by without a mass shooting.
The president predicted that he would be attacked for “politicizing” the tragedy, but asserted, “This is something that should be politicized. It is relevant to our common life together, our body politic.”
“Each time this happens, I am going to bring this up. Each time this happens, I’m going to say we can actually do something about it, but we have to change our laws,” he said. He explicitly called on Americans to think about gun violence when they vote for their representatives.
Watch an excerpt of the speech:
White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said earlier in the day that the Umpqua Community College shooting is an example of why America needs to take gun control seriously.
The press secretary said President Obama still prioritizes gun control but he is “quite realistic that we’ll need to see a fundamental change in terms of the way the American people communicate this priority to Congress before we’ll see a different outcome in the legislative process,” according to Politico.
“We’ve not yet seen that kind of strong bipartisan support across the country translate into legislative support in the United States Congress that’s sufficient to pass legislation that would, again, implement these kinds of common-sense solutions,” Earnest continued. Though Congress has done nothing, a number of states have stepped up to implement background checks, and Oregon’s new law that implemented universal background checks for even private gun sales went into effect last month.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder also weighed in, calling for gun control measures. “Is the answer to our gun violence epidemic to do nothing? Again? Come on America! We solve problems,” he tweeted.
This isn’t the first time the White House has turned to the topic of gun control following a mass shooting. After the Newtown shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut in 2012, Obama made an impassioned plea for popular gun control reforms.
“Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?” he said at the time. “I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.”
Following the more recent shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, Obama also expressed frustration that Congress had done nothing, despite bipartisan support for reforms to gun purchases.
“I have had to make statements like this too many times. Communities have had to endure tragedies like this too many times,” Obama said hours after police apprehended shooter Dylann Roof. “We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun. Now is the time for mourning and for healing. But let’s be clear. At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.”
Obama has had to address mass shootings at least nine times: