President Obama Thursday appeared at the White House to mourn the killing of nine African Americans in South Carolina in a apparently racially motivated mass murder, using the tragedy to call for Americans to change the way they think about guns.
“I have had to make statement like this too many times. Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times,” Obama said. “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 all but admitted that gun control measures were not likely to pass anytime soon, charging that “the politics in this town” probably prevents it. But he also appeared to acknowledge that the “politics” reflected thinking in the country, implicitly criticizing Americans for not attaining the same enlightened state on the issue as other “advanced” countries.
“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,” Obama said. “It doesn’t happen in other places with this type of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it . . . At some point, it’s going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it and for us to be able to shift how we think about gun violence collectively,” he said.
Obama addressed the racial aspect of the murders, noting the killing had occurred in an historic black church and has saying the killing “raises questions about a dark part of our history.”
But he also said there was an “outpouring of unity” across races in Charleston which “indicates the degree to which those old vestiges of hatred can be overcome.”
And with that, Obama jetted out to California for two days of fundraising.