President Obama on Thursday made an impassioned case that gun violence is “something we should politicize” following a mass shooting at a community college in Oregon.
A visibly angry Obama blasted Congress for being unwilling to change the nation's gun laws in response to a wave of mass shootings that have cast a cloud over his presidency.
“This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months in America,” Obama said. “We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.”
Obama chided opponents of gun control legislation, including those who argue the country needs more guns to prevent mass shootings. And he urged proponents of stricter gun laws to vote for political candidates who share their views.
“Each time this happens, I’m going to bring this up,” Obama said. “Each time this happens, I am going to say we can actually do something about it.”
Ten people were killed and seven wounded when a gunman opened fire Thursday morning at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., according to law enforcement officials. The suspected shooter was among the dead.
Police identified the shooter has been identified as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer, according to reports. Three handguns and a rifle were recovered at the scene.
Mercer questioned students about their religion before opening fire, multiple witnesses said, and appeared to target Christians.
Obama has been confronted with several high-profile outbreaks of gun violence during his presidency, including shootings in Tucson, Ariz; Aurora, Colo; Newtown, Conn.; and most recently in Charleston, S.C.
Thursday marked the fifteenth time the president made a statement on a mass shooting, according to CBS Radio reporter and unofficial White House historian Mark Knoller.
Obama’s frustration was palpable during his 12-minute statement.
“Somehow this has become routine,” Obama said. “The reporting is routine, my response here at this podium ends up being routine. And what becomes routine is the response from those who oppose any sort of gun control legislation."
The president chastised gun-rights groups, such as the National Rifle Association (NRA), which helped stymie his previous effort to enact stronger federal gun laws following the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The proposed changes included expanded background checks and bans on assault weapons
"How can you, with a straight face, make the case that more guns will make us safer?” he asked.
In a veiled jab at the NRA, Obama asked American gun owners to consider “whether your views are properly being represented by the organization that suggests it is speaking for you.”
With just 15 months left in office, the prospects for any of Obama’s preferred gun policies being enacted are slim. Republicans control both chambers of Congress and are united in the view that stronger gun laws are not needed, citing Second Amendment rights.
As he has several times before, Obama called the failure to pass gun-control legislation the biggest frustration of his presidency.
“I hope and pray I don’t have to come out again during my tenure as president to offer my condolences,” Obama said. “But based on my experiences as president, I can’t guarantee that, and that is terrible thing to say.”
Updated at 5:58 a.m.