WASHINGTON – “”We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months,” President Obama said at a White House press conference in the wake of a killing spree this past Thursday at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.
He was visibly shaken, frustrated, and angry. So far, there have been 15 mass killings during his seven years in office.
“Each time this happens, I am going to say we are going to have to do something about it. And that we are going to have to change our laws,” Obama said. “This is not something I can do myself.”
Christopher Harper-Mercer, 26, a student at Umpqua, killed nine people and wounded seven more before he committed suicide.
Police report that he brought six weapons to campus and that they recovered eight more from his home.
“We are not the only country on earth that has people with mental illnesses or who want to do harm to other people,” Obama said at his press conference. He blasted Congress for doing nothing about gun control and for blocking the collection of data on shooting incidents.
“We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones,” he said.
He continued: “As I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough.”
The President said the reaction to such shootings has become “routine.”
“We’ve become numb to this,” he said. “We talked about this after Columbine, Blacksburg, Tucson, Newtown, Aurora, after Charleston.”
He added: “… somebody, somewhere, will comment and say, ‘Obama politicized this issue.’ This is something we should politicize. … This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months in America.”
A report published by the FBI, studying “active shooting situations” between 2000 and 2013, found that such incidents were happening more and more recently. The first seven years of the study found an average of 6.4 active shootings per year, while the last seven years of the study found that number jumped up to 16.4 incidents per year.
Responding to incidents such as the Umpqua murders, Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA) said, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.”
Although the NRA began as a sort of club for gun owners, for many years it has been an association of gun manufacturers that rake in many billion dollars a year.
Observers say that LaPierre’s remark calling for more, not less guns, is a good illustration of what Pope Francis recently said in his speech to a joint session of Congress. He asked, “Why are weapons given to those who use them to inflict harm on innocent people?” The answer, he said, “is money.”
Concluding his remarks at his press conference, President Obama said, “I would ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws and to save lives, and to let young people grow up. That will require a change of politics on this issue.
“If you think this is a problem then you should expect your elected officials to reflect your views.”