President Barack Obama turned what was supposed to have been a memorial service recognizing the 12 lives lost during the Washington Navy Yard rampage last week into a political speech on gun control. He jumped right into this theme after briefly eulogizing each of the victims.
“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,” he said of gun violence in his remarks at the gathering, the Associated Press reported. “We cannot accept this.”
The president also blamed mass shootings 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,” the president said.
The background checks currently in place are meant to stop criminals and those with mental disorders from acquiring weapons from licensed dealers. However, criminals are generally able to obtain firearms from other sources — friends, relatives or on the street.
Also, many states have laws protecting the confidentiality of those suffering from a mental disease or defect — so their names never get entered into the system.
An expanded background check proposal, introduced by U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.V. and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., was soundly defeated in the Senate in April. The president seemed to refer to this in his Navy Yard speech.
“And that’s sometimes where the resignation comes from: the sense that our politics are frozen and that nothing will change. Well, I cannot accept that,” Obama said. “By now, though, it should be clear that the change we need will not come from Washington, even when tragedy strikes Washington. Change will come the only way it ever has come, and that’s from the American people.”
If public opinion polls are any indication, it won’t come from this quarter either. Two polls — one from Gallup and the other a HuffPo/YouGov poll — indicate that public support for stricter gun control has actually slipped since the Navy Yard shooting, as Breitbart News reported.
Nonetheless, the president campaigns on.
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