President Obama: “How can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer?”

From the White House, President Obama spoke of another mass shooting, this time at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon.

[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. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America — next week, or a couple of months from now. […]

And it’s fair to say that anybody who does this has a sickness in their minds, regardless of what they think their motivations may be. But we are not the only country on Earth that has people with mental illnesses or want to do harm to other people. We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months.

He calls out the NRA lies:

And what’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation. Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out: We need more guns, they’ll argue. Fewer gun safety laws.

Does anybody really believe that? There are scores of responsible gun owners in this country –they know that’s not true. We know because of the polling that says the majority of Americans understand we should be changing these laws — including the majority of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.

There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America. So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer? We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don’t work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns is not borne out by the evidence.

And the cowards in Congress:

We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction. When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives. So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations doesn’t make sense.

So, tonight, as those of us who are lucky enough to hug our kids a little closer are thinking about the families who aren’t so fortunate, I’d 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. And that will require a change of politics on this issue. And it will require that the American people, individually, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or an independent, when you decide to vote for somebody, are making a determination as to whether this cause of continuing death for innocent people should be a relevant factor in your decision. If you think this is a problem, then you should expect your elected officials to reflect your views.

Full transcript below …

Statement by the President on the Shootings at Umpqua Community College, Roseburg, Oregon

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

6:22 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: There’s been another mass shooting in America — this time, in a community college in Oregon.

That means there are more American families — moms, dads, children — whose lives have been changed forever. That means there’s another community stunned with grief, and communities across the country forced to relieve their own anguish, and parents across the country who are scared because they know it might have been their families or their children.

I’ve been to Roseburg, Oregon. There are really good people there. I want to thank all the first responders whose bravery likely saved some lives today. Federal law enforcement has been on the scene in a supporting role, and we’ve offered to stay and help as much as Roseburg needs, for as long as they need.

In the coming days, we’ll learn about the victims — young men and women who were studying and learning and working hard, their eyes set on the future, their dreams on what they could make of their lives. And America will wrap everyone who’s grieving with our prayers and our love.

But 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. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America — next week, or a couple of months from now.

We don’t yet know why this individual did what he did. And it’s fair to say that anybody who does this has a sickness in their minds, regardless of what they think their motivations may be. But we are not the only country on Earth that has people with mental illnesses or want to do harm to other people. We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months.

Earlier this year, I answered a question in an interview by saying, “The United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense gun-safety laws — even in the face of repeated mass killings.” And later that day, there was a mass shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. That day! Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this.

We talked about this after Columbine and Blacksburg, after Tucson, after Newtown, after Aurora, after Charleston. It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun.

And what’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation. Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out: We need more guns, they’ll argue. Fewer gun safety laws.

Does anybody really believe that? There are scores of responsible gun owners in this country –they know that’s not true. We know because of the polling that says the majority of Americans understand we should be changing these laws — including the majority of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.

There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America. So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer? We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don’t work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns is not borne out by the evidence.

We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it.

And, of course, what’s also routine is that somebody, somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue. Well, this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic. I would ask news organizations — because I won’t put these facts forward — have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports. This won’t be information coming from me; it will be coming from you. We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?

This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction. When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives. So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations doesn’t make sense.

So, tonight, as those of us who are lucky enough to hug our kids a little closer are thinking about the families who aren’t so fortunate, I’d 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. And that will require a change of politics on this issue. And it will require that the American people, individually, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or an independent, when you decide to vote for somebody, are making a determination as to whether this cause of continuing death for innocent people should be a relevant factor in your decision. If you think this is a problem, then you should expect your elected officials to reflect your views.

And I would particularly ask America’s gun owners — who are using those guns properly, safely, to hunt, for sport, for protecting their families — to think about whether your views are properly being represented by the organization that suggests it’s speaking for you.

And each time this happens I’m going to bring this up. Each time this happens I am going to say that we can actually do something about it, but we’re going to have to change our laws. And this is not something I can do by myself. I’ve got to have a Congress and I’ve got to have state legislatures and governors who are willing to work with me on this.

I hope and pray that I don’t have to come out again during my tenure as President to offer my condolences to families in these circumstances. But based on my experience as President, I can’t guarantee that. And that’s terrible to say. And it can change.

May God bless the memories of those who were killed today. May He bring comfort to their families, and courage to the injured as they fight their way back. And may He give us the strength to come together and find the courage to change.

Thank you.

END
6:35 P.M. EDT

  14 comments for “President Obama: “How can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer?”

  1. JanF
    October 2, 2015 at 5:17 am

    President Obama:

    This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction. When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives. So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations doesn’t make sense.

    Yes, he is politicizing this because it is political cowardice that is leading to the needless slaughter of our families, friends, and loved ones.

  2. JanF
    October 2, 2015 at 5:22 am

    Vox built the chart that the president asked for:


    Over ten thousand Americans are killed every year by gun violence. By contrast, so few Americans have been killed by terrorist attacks since 9/11 that, when you chart the two together, the terrorism death count approximates zero for every year except 2001. This comparison, if anything, understates the gap: Far more Americans die every year from (easily preventable) gun suicides than gun homicides.

    • JanF
      October 2, 2015 at 6:03 am

      More Vox statistics:

      Among developed nations, the US is far and away the most violent — in large part due to the easy access many Americans have to firearms. These charts and maps show what that violence looks like compared with the rest of the world, why it happens, and why it’s such a tough problem to fix.

      Sandy Hook was supposed to be our “NEVER AGAIN!” moment.
      “There have been at least 986 mass shootings since Sandy Hook”

      From Twitter:

      @DPJHodges
      In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.

      Remember when sending your kid off to school felt safe? :(

      • Portlaw
        October 2, 2015 at 8:16 am

        And we have the death penalty, unlike other civilized nations. We seem to be comfortable with violence. I am so heartsick. Am so disgusted.

  3. JanF
    October 2, 2015 at 5:32 am

    Don’t believe the lies of the NRA shills on cable news that this happened because that college was a gun-free zone. It wasn’t. The NRA fought tooth and nail to have campuses removed from the gun-free zone and they “won”.

    “The gun free zones are the areas that tell licensed gun owners that you are not allowed to carry your weapon in this facility…If you’re going to perpetrate some act, you know that most people are not going to be armed,” CNN “military analyst” Rick Francona said a few minutes after the shooting.

    A retired Navy Seal, Jonathan Gilliam, also appearing on CNN, went even further. Blaming the “gun free zone” for the scope of the tragedy and adding “the only thing that’s going to stop a gun is another gun.”

    Umpqua Community College, however, was not a gun free zone. A 2011, state court decision prohibited public colleges from banning guns on campus. The decision stemmed from a suit filed by the Oregon Firearm Education Foundation, a gun rights group. There was an effort to pass a new law to reinstate the ability of public colleges to ban guns. That measure was defeated by gun rights advocates.

    The “more guns stop gun violence” fantasy is a right-wing fraud perpetrated on the American people so that gun sellers can sell guns.

    As the president said:

    Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out: We need more guns, they’ll argue. Fewer gun safety laws.

    Does anybody really believe that? […]

    There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America. So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer?

  4. JanF
    October 2, 2015 at 5:42 am

    The Rude Pundit, not being rude … being sad:

    I no longer remember where I am when I hear about the latest nightmare massacre in the United States. I am no longer shocked enough by their occurrence. And that makes me so sorrowful because that means I’ve become so numb to all of this that it barely registers beyond “Oh, what is it this time? What variation on the nightmare is it?”

    The at-least ten people who were gunned down near Roseburg, Oregon, are victims of the shooter, yes. But this nation is filled to overflow with complicit criminals. At this point, if you are someone who doesn’t believe in greater gun regulation you are an accomplice. No, let’s go further: you are a murderer. If we’re executing people who were in the room when someone was killed by another or planned someone’s death, then anyone who opposes and works against tighter gun laws is guilty of murder in the same way, by facilitating it, by making it easier for the murder to occur, by creating the circumstances by which murder happens. […]

    We’ve given up so much in the United States to people who are wrong. Not just opinion wrong, but actually wrong. We know that stricter gun laws lead to fewer gun deaths. This is a fact. We know that states with loose gun laws have a higher rate of gun violence. This is a fact. These facts should make a rational society do something.

    Instead, we’re told that such facts don’t matter. Instead, we’ve been forced to just suck it up after every massacre, whether it’s children or college students or restaurant patrons, because of the cowardly inaction of our legislators. We’re told that our guns will keep us safe. No, they won’t. And you’re a fool who will get yourself or somebody else killed if you believe that.

  5. JanF
    October 2, 2015 at 5:52 am

    Some tweets:

    Political Line ‏@PoliticalLine
    Imagine if thousands of Americans died every year in fires and the political system was so broken they couldnt pass basic fire safety laws

    Top Conservative Cat ‏@TeaPartyCat
    The #UCCShooting was a real tragedy, but I’m sure the shooter was a member of a well-regulated militia, so there was nothing we could do.

    Cody Kessler ‏@cody_k
    .@GottaLaff What does #NRA have to do with this?

    Oh.

    Hunter ‏@HunterDK
    If my child was killed by a mass shooter & you offered only prayers and teddy bears in response I would probably beat the tar out of you.

    Sean McElwee ‏@SeanMcElwee
    please don’t politicize the national crisis that can only be solved politically.

    LOLGOP ‏@LOLGOP
    FYI: You’re not allowed to politicize a gun tragedy but you are encouraged to politicize the politicizing of a gun tragedy.

    Rocky Mountain Mike ‏@RockyMntnMike
    “Democrats are using these horrible deaths of innocents to promote a political agenda”, said the Republican on the 12th Benghazi committee.

    Jenny Jaffe ‏@jennyjaffe

    “GUNS ARENT THE PROBLEM MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE ARE”

    “OK, then federally funded, easily accessible mental healthcare, please!”

    “NO!”

  6. October 2, 2015 at 6:02 am

    Jan, thanks for the transcript. Feeling heartsick and speechless. We are the only “first world” country that allows untrammeled gun ownership. “They” have a right to own guns but “we” do not have the right not to be murdered.

    • Portlaw
      October 2, 2015 at 8:17 am

      Can’t imagine how the parents of the students feel.

  7. Denise Velez
    October 2, 2015 at 9:02 am

    Bravo POTUS for getting really pissed off.

    I’m numb and heartsick that …here we go again.

    • JanF
      October 2, 2015 at 9:19 am

      He can’t win. When he speaks matter of factly, he gets dissed for being “cold” … when he speaks with righteous anger, he gets dissed for being “unhinged”.

      Basically this speech was “you know where to find me when you’re serious”. I suspect that no one will care any more about this issue today than they did yesterday morning before this latest killing spree. :(

  8. JanF
    October 2, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Ed Kilgore at WaMo on the president’s anger:

    America is mainly exceptional among advanced democratic nations not in our personal or economic liberty, but in our strange belief that letting everyone stockpile weapons is essential to the preservation of our freedom, and in the consequences of that strange belief. That’s what the worship of the most extreme interpretation possible of the Second Amendment, fed by the gun lobby and politicians (mostly, though not exclusively, conservatives) has wrought. And yes, it’s something that can make you angry.

    • princesspat
      October 2, 2015 at 10:33 am

      This article in the Seattle times today makes me sigh with resignation……how will we as a country ever resolve such deeply conflicting beliefs?

      Strong support for guns in town shocked by college shooting

      ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) — Hunting deer, elk and bear in the surrounding hills and fishing for salmon and steelhead have strong followings in southern Oregon’s timber country, made famous by Western writer Zane Gray, who counted the North Umpqua River his favorite place to fish.

      So does support for the right to own and carry a gun.

      “I carry to protect myself — the exact same reason this happened,” said Casey Runyan, referring to the deadly shootings Thursday at Umpqua Community College. Runyan carries a Glock 29 automatic pistol everywhere he goes.
      “All my friends agree with me. That’s the only kind of friends I have,” said Runyan, a disabled Marine Corps veteran who says he carried a machine gun in the infantry in Iraq.

      • JanF
        October 2, 2015 at 1:08 pm

        You can own and carry a gun … that right is not in question.

        What the rejected commonsense gun law proposed after Sandy Hook did was to tighten background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill, and those who have shown that they have no respect for people’s lives.

        That is why the president tried to appeal to gun owners:

        And I would particularly ask America’s gun owners — who are using those guns properly, safely, to hunt, for sport, for protecting their families — to think about whether your views are properly being represented by the organization that suggests it’s speaking for you.

        The NRA is doing its best to put all gun owners on the same footing: the hunter and the murderer, the sport shooter and the person who opens fire in a movie theater. If gun owners are willing to accept that, so be it. It doesn’t have to be that way.

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