The president spoke at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco on Friday. One of the topics was gun violence.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Obviously, the entire country has been shocked and heartbroken by what happened in Charleston. The nature of this attack — in a place of worship, where congregants invite in a stranger to worship with them, only to be gunned down — adds to the pain. The apparent motivations of the shooter remind us that racism remains a blight that we have to combat together. We have made great progress, but we have to be vigilant because it still lingers. And when it’s poisoning the minds of young people, it betrays our ideals and tears our democracy apart. […]
More than 11,000 Americans were killed by gun violence in 2013 alone — 11,000. […] At the very least, we should be able to talk about this issue as citizens, without demonizing all gun owners who are overwhelmingly law-abiding, but also without suggesting that any debate about this involves a wild-eyed plot to take everybody’s guns away.[…]
I remarked that it was very unlikely that this Congress would act. And some reporters, I think, took this as resignation. I want to be clear — I am not resigned. I have faith we will eventually do the right thing. (Applause.) I was simply making the point that we have to move public opinion. […]
We need a change in attitudes among everybody — lawful gun owners, those who are unfamiliar with guns. […]
And ultimately, Congress acts when the public insists on action.
Another “normal” that we should not accept: that people of color should always fear for their basic safety. This comment, by David Remnick at the New Yorker, highlights the issue:
No small part of our outrage and grief—particularly the outrage and grief of African-Americans—is the way the Charleston murders are part of a larger picture of American life, in which black men and women, going about their day-to-day lives, have so little confidence in their own safety. One appalling event after another reinforces the sense that the country’s political and law-enforcement institutions do not extend themselves as completely or as fairly as they do for whites.
THAT is what needs to change. Until people of color can feel safe going about their day, until the benefit of the doubt is extended to them … and their children … things will not be right. We need to demand a New Normal for fairness in America and shift public opinion so that protections are extended to all people of all races and genders and sexual orientations.
(Full context of the president’s remarks on gun violence are below …)
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