President Barack Obama has adopted a different tone, if not a new stance, about gun legislation.
In the immediate aftermath of Thursday’s shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, Obama forcefully spoke about United States’ gun laws.
In his statement, Obama said that “our thoughts and prayers are not enough” as a response to mass shootings without “sufficient common-sense gun-safety laws.”
“[I]t does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America—next week, or a couple of months from now,” Obama said.
Obama spoke out against those who oppose firearm legislation:
[W]hat’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation. Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out: We need more guns, they’ll argue. Fewer gun safety laws.
Does anybody really believe that?
The president said the issue is something that “we should politicize.”
“This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America,” Obama said. “We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.”
Obama then called upon members of the news media to make charts depicting how many Americans had died from gun violence vs. acts of terrorism. Several news outlets responded by publishing the following on their websites and through social media:
— ABC News (@abcnews) October 2, 2015
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) October 1, 2015
— Stratos Safioleas (@stratosathens) October 2, 2015
— Grasswire (@Grasswire) October 1, 2015
CNNmade the following chart:
The president’s Twitter account shared one of the charts:
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) October 2, 2015
Obama also called upon U.S. citizens to encourage politicians to change gun laws:
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. And it will require that the American people, individually, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or an independent, when you decide to vote for somebody, are making a determination as to whether this cause of continuing death for innocent people should be a relevant factor in your decision. If you think this is a problem, then you should expect your elected officials to reflect your views.
Though many social media users shared charts depicting gun deaths in America along with quotes from the president’s address, the reaction to his address has been mixed:
— M. Portland Ross (@RealMessiah29) October 2, 2015
— Little Mac (@Martytude) October 2, 2015
@BarackObama Many more babies are killed by Planned Parenthood
— Alxandro (@Alxandro) October 2, 2015
Ugh. Re guns killing, “so do lots of other things” is bogus argument. Guns remain only thing untouchable by new law. http://t.co/VIrAkTlM4A
— David Dobbs (@David_Dobbs) October 2, 2015
“We need more guns, they’ll argue. Fewer gun safety laws. Does anybody really believe that?” President Obama rightfully calling out the NRA
— Nerdy Wonka (@NerdyWonka) October 1, 2015
President Obama is right on the money. This violence is out of hand. Something needs to be done. And no not more guns.
— Mary/luvtiva (@lvjk) October 1, 2015
Total number of words Obama devoted to guns in his last State of Union address: 0. Spare me the crocodile tears, Mr President. #Oregon
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) October 2, 2015
Speaking out against gun legislation
U.S. citizens weren’t the only ones with reactions to Obama’s address.
Though the NRA has not issued an official reaction over the president’s statement, its Twitter account shared the following tweets:
— NRA (@NRA) October 2, 2015
Today, there are more than 10,000 NRA-certified police and security firearms instructors #fact
— NRA (@NRA) October 2, 2015
GOP candidate Mike Huckabee said Obama was “shamelessly” trying to “exploit” the recent tragedy.
“With few facts, Obama is quick to admittedly politicize this tragedy to advance his liberal, anti-gun agenda,” Huckabee said in a statement. “For this president to make a political pronouncement is at best premature and at worst ignorantly inflammatory.”
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin wrote a letter to Vice President Joe Biden in 2013 opposing gun control legislation.
In the letter, Hanlin says, “Gun control is not the answer to preventing heinous crimes like school shootings.” He says that amending the Second Amendment would be “irresponsible and an indisputable insult to the American people.”
Hanlin also wrote in the letter that he would not enforce any federal regulations or executive orders that amends the right to bear arms, nor would he permit them to be enforced within Douglas County, Oregon.
On Friday, he was asked about the letter in an interview on the “Today Show,” but refused to comment. “Well, first of all, there’s a lot of talk about guns and gun control, and that is a conversation we will all be having in the coming weeks,” Hanlin said, “but right now I’m focused on completing this investigation and, more importantly, focused on the victims and families of the victims.”
After continual questioning on CNN’s “New Day,” however, Hanlin said that his “position on [gun control] hasn’t changed.”
Obama will continue to speak on gun control
On Friday, in a press conference at which he announced former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s resignation, Obama said he would continue to speak politically about gun safety and legislation. “Our inaction is a political decision we are making,” he said.
Obama said that “the majority of the American people think [gun legislation is] the right thing to do,” and that “the people who are troubled by this need to be as intense and organized and adamant” about gun legislation as those who oppose it.
USA Today reported that most of Obama’s previous addresses after mass shootings did not focus on gun violence as the cause.
With the president’s press conferences this week, it appears that has changed.
“This [violence] will not change unless the politics change and the behavior of our politicians change,” Obama said.