Obama rips lack of action on guns: Shouldn't take pandemic to curb shootings

Obama rips lack of action on guns: Shouldn't take pandemic to curb shootings
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Former President Obama renewed calls for tougher gun laws in the wake of mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado in the span of a week.

Obama lamented the "familiar outrage" that has come to accompany the frequent gun violence in the U.S. while offering condolences to the families of victims in Atlanta and Boulder.

"It is long past time for those with the power to fight this epidemic of gun violence to do so. It will take time to root out the disaffection, racism and misogyny that fuels so many of these senseless acts of violence," Obama said in a statement Tuesday.

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"But we can make it harder for those with hate in their hearts to buy weapons of war. We can overcome opposition by cowardly politicians and the pressure of a gun lobby that opposes any limit on the ability of anyone to assemble an arsenal. We can, and we must," he continued.

"A once-in-a-century pandemic cannot be the only thing that slows mass shootings in this country," he added. "We shouldn’t have to choose between one type of tragedy and another. It’s time for leaders everywhere to listen to the American people when they say enough is enough—because this is a normal we can no longer afford."

Obama noted in Tuesday's statement that life for many Americans may soon return to a sense of normalcy as coronavirus cases decrease and vaccinations increase. But he expressed concern that the return to large gatherings and in-person learning could also mean a rise in gun violence.

"We should be able to go to school, or go out with our friends, or worship together without mentally planning our escape if someone shows up with a gun. We should be able to live our lives without wondering if the next trip outside our home could be our last," Obama said.

"We should. But in America, we can’t."

Obama issued a statement after 10 people, including a police officer, were killed in a shooting at a grocery store in Boulder on Monday night. Police have arrested the suspect, a 21-year-old, and charged him with 10 counts of first-degree murder. The victims range in age from 20 to 65, police said.

The Boulder shooting comes one week after a gunman killed eight people in the Atlanta area, most of whom were Asian women. Those killings put a spotlight on the sharp rise in violence and discrimination against Asian Americans over the past year, which coincided with the start of the pandemic.