President Barack Obama took to the White House press room to express emotion-filled remarks about the tragic shooting on the evening of June 17 in Charleston, South Carolina. Invoking the history of racism and violence in the United States, he spoke to the perennial debate over firearms. "I don't need to be constrained about the emotions tragedies like this raise," said Obama. "I've had to make comments like this too many times. Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times. 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."
Obama has pushed for stricter gun control ever since the fatal shooting in 20012 at Sandy Hook CT, where a crazed gunman killed school children and later shot himself and his mother.
"Now is the time for mourning and 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," said Obama as Vice President Joseph Biden stood by. "It is in our power to do something about it… I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now."
Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are familiar with many of the members of the congregation at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, where the shooting took place. He said he also knew Pastor Clementa Pinckney, who was gunned down by the shooter on June 17. It is an historically black church that was active in the civil rights movement. Invoking a church firebombing of 1963 in which four children were killed in Birmingham AL, Obama quoted Martin Luther King Jr. "'They lived meaningful lives and they died nobly.'"
Speaking before Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said "As we move forward, my thoughts and prayers and those of our entire law enforcement community, here at the Department of Justice and around the country, are with the families and loved ones of the victims in Charleston," Lynch said on Thursday. "Even as we struggle to comprehend this heartbreaking event, I want everyone in Charleston — and everyone who has been affected by this tragedy — to know that we will do everything in our power to help heal this community and make it whole again."
Despite Obama's comments about mass murder in the United States, one of the worst in modern history occured in Norway in 2011. It was then that a lone gunman killed 77 persons, most of them children at a summer holiday camp in the Oslo region. Obama admitted that, while he does not have all the facts, "We do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun."
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