Lamenting the fifth time he has appeared at a mass shooting’s memorial service as president, Barack Obama said that tears, words, and prayers were no longer enough.
“If we really want to honour these 12 men and women — if we really want to be a country where we can go to work, go to school and walk our streets free from senseless violence without so many lives being stolen with a bullet from a gun — then we’re going to have to change,” Obama said at a memorial service for the victims of Monday’s shooting at the Washington Navy Yard.
Even more so than a similar speech he gave following the elementary-school massacre in Newtown, Conn., last December, Obama’s speech Sunday served as a plea for new gun laws.
Obama said that he worried the country was becoming numb to this sort of mass violence. He said it “ought to lead to some sort of transformation” as it did in other countries, like the United Kingdom and Australia.
“What is different in America is that it’s easy to get your hands on a gun,” Obama said, “and a lot of us know this.”
He also addressed the reality — that members in Congress are not inclined to take up new measures, or even ones that failed during the last gun-control push. He said that change on the issue won’t come from Washington — it will come from the outside, from people demanding action.
Obama noted that he has grieved with five communities in the wake of mass shootings — including in Newtown last December and in Tucson, Ariz., after the shooting that critically wounded former Rep. Gabby Giffords. Again, he wished it would be the last.
“We cannot accept this. As Americans bound in grief and love, we must insist here today there is nothing normal about innocent men and women being gunned down where they work,” he said.
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