In the wake of another senseless mass shooting, a visibly frustrated President Barack Obama addressed the nation, calling on the people and Congress to make a change.
During his speech Obama contrasted efforts to combat terrorism with the lack of action on senseless gun violence.
“We spend over 1 trillion dollars and pass countless laws and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so,” Obama said after the deadly attack at Umpqua Community College that took at least 10 lives, including that of the shooter. “And yet we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?”
The president challenged members of the press to address the issue:
I would ask news organizations — because I won’t put these facts forward — have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who have been killed in terrorist attacks in last decade and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence. And post those side by side on your news reports. This won’t be information coming from me. It will be coming from you.
NBC News took the president up on his challenge, and this is what they found:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 153,144 people were killed by homicide in which firearms were used between 2001 and 2013, the last year that data are available (that number excludes deaths by “legal intervention”).
- The Global Terrorism Database — which uses a criteria to determine terrorist attacks but also includes acts of violence that are more ambiguous in goal — estimates that 3,046 people in the U.S. died in terrorist or possible terrorist attacks between 2001 and 2014.
NBC News added: “The top number doesn’t even include suicides and legal police killings (which boost the number to 394,912). Still, just counting homicides alone, 11,780 Americans were killed by guns a year on average in that time period, while 219 on average were killed per year by terrorism — although of course the 9/11 attacks are the bulk of the deaths.”
However, as President Obama pointed out in his speech “Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out: We need more guns, they’ll argue. Fewer gun safety laws.” And, of course, we will likely be hearing about how “we should be arming teachers” or “if only a good guy was there with a gun” because the mantra of the NRA and other gun-advocacy organizations has become “it takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy.”
We conclude with the final remarks from President Obama’s speech:
And each time this happens I’m going to bring this up. Each time this happens I am going to say that we can actually do something about it, but we’re going to have to change our laws. And this is not something I can do by myself. I’ve got to have a Congress and I’ve got to have state legislatures and governors who are willing to work with me on this.
I hope and pray that I don’t have to come out again during my tenure as President to offer my condolences to families in these circumstances. But based on my experience as President, I can’t guarantee that. And that’s terrible to say. And it can change.
May God bless the memories of those who were killed today. May He bring comfort to their families, and courage to the injured as they fight their way back. And may He give us the strength to come together and find the courage to change.
Image from YouTube.