Looking Back at the ‘Too Many Times’ Obama Has Addressed a Mass Shooting
"We've become numb to this," Obama says of mass shootings in America.
— -- "There’s been another mass shooting in America."
With those words of lament, President Obama began his emotional statement on the shooting in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday -- the 15th time he’s had to make remarks following a mass shooting.
Never has he appeared to so angry or so frustrated -- or so sharply political in his message on guns -- in the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting.
"As I said just a few months ago and I said a few months before that and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings," Obama said, "our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It's not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel."
Obama’s words in the wake of tragedy all seem to touch on similar themes: The pain of incalculable loss, bravery in the face of evil and a frustration over political inaction on ways to make each act of violence the last.
Here are excerpts of the president’s remarks following six of the deadliest mass shootings during his presidency:
1. Venting frustration
Umpqua Community College – Oct. 2, 2015. A 26-year-old gunman killed nine and wounded at least seven others at Umpqua Community College campus in Roseburg, Ore.
"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."
2. Invoking scripture
Fort Hood – Nov. 5, 2009. A U.S. Army major guns down 12 soldiers and a civilian physician’s assistant at Fort Hood military base near Killeen, Texas.
“In our lives, in our joys and in our sorrows, we've learned that there is a time for every matter under heaven. We laugh and we weep. We celebrate and we mourn. We serve in war and we pray for peace. But scripture also teaches that alongside the temporal, one thing is eternal. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends … May God watch over these American soldiers. May He keep strong their families whose love endures. May God continue to bless the United States of America with patriots such as these.”
3. Honoring the heroes
“Our hearts are full of gratitude for those who saved others. We are grateful to Daniel Hernandez, a volunteer in Gabby’s office. Daniel, I’m sorry, you may deny it, but we’ve decided you are a hero because you ran through the chaos to minister to your boss and tended to her wounds and helped keep her alive. We are grateful to the men who tackled the gunman as he stopped to reload. Right over there. We are grateful for petite Patricia Maisch, who wrestled away the killer’s ammunition, and undoubtedly saved some lives. And we are grateful for the doctors and nurses and first-responders who worked wonders to heal those who’d been hurt. We are grateful to them.”
4. Mourning the loss
“The majority of those who died today were children — beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers — men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams. So our hearts are broken today.”
5. Sasha and Malia
Aurora – July 20, 2012. A gunman kills 12 people at a midnight screening of the movie, “The Dark Night Rises.”
“My daughters go to the movies. What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater, as so many of our kids do every day? Michelle and I will be fortunate enough to hug our girls a little tighter tonight, and I'm sure you will do the same with your children. But for those parents who may not be so lucky, we have to embrace them and let them know we will be there for them as a nation.”
6. No More
“We can’t 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. There is nothing normal about our children being gunned down in their classrooms. There is nothing normal about children dying in our streets from stray bullets. No other advanced nation endures this kind of violence — none. Here in America, the murder rate is three times what it is in other developed nations. The murder rate with guns is ten times what it is in other developed nations. And there is nothing inevitable about it. It comes about because of decisions we make or fail to make. And it falls upon us to make it different.”
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