Obama Again Airs His Frustration Over Guns President Obama says one of his biggest frustrations has been an inability to pass stricter gun laws. The president aired those feelings again after the deadly shooting spree in Oregon.
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Obama Again Airs His Frustration Over Guns

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Obama Again Airs His Frustration Over Guns

Obama Again Airs His Frustration Over Guns

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Yesterday's news from Oregon prompted a strange feeling. What happened in the town of Roseburg felt at once appalling and appallingly ordinary after a series of other high-profile shootings in recent years. A lone gunman, armed with several weapons, walked into a classroom at Umpqua Community College and opened fire.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

At least 10 people, including the gunman, are now dead. We're told that seven were wounded. Last night in Roseburg, the community held a candlelight vigil.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We are family.

CROWD: We are family.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We are one.

CROWD: We are one.

MONTAGNE: A large crowd gathered at a park in Roseburg, holding candles and comforting each other. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown addressed them with a message of unity.

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KATE BROWN: We don't know why this happened. We only know that we are called to come together as a community to banish fear and affirm love.

INSKEEP: That's the sound in Roseburg. And at the White House yesterday, President Obama spoke in public. He appeared frustrated and emotional. One of his biggest frustrations is an inability to pass stricter gun laws in the United States. He said that's not likely to change until voters force politicians to act. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: In a ritual that gets no less painful no matter how many times we've seen it, President Obama stepped into the White House briefing room last night to mourn the latest victims of what he wearily called another mass shooting in America.

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BARACK OBAMA: 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.

HORSLEY: Frustrated at having to offer similar condolences more than a dozen times in his presidency, Obama added thoughts and prayers are not enough.

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OBAMA: 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.

HORSLEY: Gun Owners of America issued a statement last night, calling it offensive for the president to turn tragedy into political opportunity. But Obama insisted gun violence of this magnitude deserves a political response. He noted mine disasters trigger mine safety regulation. Deadly auto wrecks prompt seatbelt laws. And yet America continues to tolerate gun violence that annually kills 10 times as many people as died on 9/11. The administration pressed hard for gun safety legislation back in 2013 after the Sandy Hook shootings, but that effort stalled in the Senate. Vice President Biden yesterday called that a symptom of political dysfunction.

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JOE BIDEN: We're basically the only civilized country in the world where we have these massive murders. And 87 percent of the American people agreed with the proposal I put together for the president on background checks and gun safety.

HORSLEY: Obama vowed last night to keep raising the issue each time there's another mass shooting.

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OBAMA: 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.

HORSLEY: Obama says he hopes this is the last time he's called on as president to make such a statement, but sad experience suggests it won't be. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Washington.

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