WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Sunday memorialized the victims of the Washington Navy Yard shooting by urging Americans not to give up on a transformation in gun laws that he argued are to blame for an epidemic of violence.
Reprising his role of the nation’s consoler in chief after yet another mass shooting, Obama issued a call to action on gun control measures that failed to pass earlier this year and show no momentum in the wake of last week’s rampage at a military installation just blocks from the Capitol.
“Our tears are not enough,” Obama told thousands gathered to mourn at the Marine Barracks. “Our words and our prayers are not enough. If we really want to honor these 12 men and women, if we really want to be a country where we can go to work and go to school and walk our streets free from senseless violence without so many lives being stolen by a bullet from a gun, then we’re going to have to change.”
Obama said when such senseless deaths strike in America, “it ought to be a shock to all of us, it ought to obsess us. It ought to lead to some sort of transformation.”
But, Obama said, “nothing happens. Alongside the anguish of these American families, alongside the accumulated outrage so many of us feel, sometimes I fear there is a creeping resignation that these tragedies are just somehow the way it is, that this is somehow the new normal. We cannot accept this. ”
He said no other advanced nation endures the kind of gun violence seen in the United States, and blamed mass shootings in America on laws that fail “to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people.”
“What’s different in America is it’s easy to get your hands on a gun,” he said. He acknowledged “the politics are difficult,” a lesson he learned after failing to get expanded background checks for gun buyers through the Democratic-controlled Senate this spring. Obama had proposed the measure after the shooting at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School killed 20 first-graders and six staff.