White House: Obama talks about gun violence when he can

President Obama has left little doubt about his views on gun violence, the White House said Friday amid questions on why the president hasn't been more vocal on the issue amid recent tragedies in Texas and Chicago.

"When the president has the opportunity to talk about this issue, he does so, I think, you know, with a lot of conviction and with a lot of clarity," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

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Earnest said it wasn't "fair" to say Obama spoke about gun violence only when he was asked about the subject, and defended the president's silence on the issue during an economic speech Thursday in Austin. 

In Houston on Wednesday, a man allegedly killed his ex-wife and five members of her family, including four children. Over the July 4 holiday weekend, 82 people were shot in Obama's hometown of Chicago.

"There are a lot of common-sense economic policies the president's put forward that Congress is also blocking. Yesterday, the president chose in his remarks to highlight those," Earnest said. "But the president feels strongly about some of the common-sense measures that Republicans have blocked related to gun safety, as well."

Earnest said that kind of gun violence was "tragic" and that Obama would "continue to make the case" that lawmakers should adopt some gun controls.

Following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012, Obama implemented a series of new administrative actions designed to help curb gun violence, and asked Congress to pass legislation implementing greater gun controls. That bill, which would have closed the loophole enabling the purchase of weapons without a background check at gun shows, stalled in the Senate.

Since then, Obama has not discussed the topic with the same frequency. During a White House town-hall event hosted by Tumblr last month, he acknowledged the political difficulties surrounding the issue.

"Most members of Congress — and I have to say, to some degree, this is bipartisan — are terrified of the NRA," Obama said. "The combination of the NRA and gun manufacturers are very well financed and have the capacity to move votes in local elections and congressional elections. And so if you’re running for office right now, that’s where you feel the heat."