Obama: Change Gun Laws, Thoughts & Prayers Not Enough

Print More
Obama on Oregon mass shooting

White House

Obama on Oregon mass shooting

President Obama tells the press after a mass shooting at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon that “thoughts and prayers are not enough.” He says “We’ve become numb” to the mass shootings. He says the arguments that more guns will make the US more safe are false. “Does anyone believe that?”

“This is something we should politicize,” said Obama. “This is a political choice we make.” Changing gun laws would save lives.

Obama asked the media to compare deaths from terror attacks in the U.S. to mass shooting deaths.

Video and transcript of President Obama’s statement on the Oregon shooting rampage


There’s been another mass shooting in America — this time, in a community college in Oregon.

That means there are more American families — moms, dads, children — whose lives have been changed forever. That means there’s another community stunned with grief, and communities across the country forced to relieve their own anguish, and parents across the country who are scared because they know it might have been their families or their children.

I’ve been to Roseburg, Oregon. There are really good people there. I want to thank all the first responders whose bravery likely saved some lives today. Federal law enforcement has been on the scene in a supporting role, and we’ve offered to stay and help as much as Roseburg needs, for as long as they need.

In the coming days, we’ll learn about the victims — young men and women who were studying and learning and working hard, their eyes set on the future, their dreams on what they could make of their lives. And America will wrap everyone who’s grieving with our prayers and our love.

But 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, 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. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America — next week, or a couple of months from now.

We don’t yet know why this individual did what he did. And it’s fair to say that anybody who does this has a sickness in their minds, regardless of what they think their motivations may be. But we are not the only country on Earth that has people with mental illnesses or want to do harm to other people. We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months.

Earlier this year, I answered a question in an interview by saying, “The United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense gun-safety laws — even in the face of repeated mass killings.” And later that day, there was a mass shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. That day! Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this.

We talked about this after Columbine and Blacksburg, after Tucson, after Newtown, after Aurora, after Charleston. It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun.

And what’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? There are scores of responsible gun owners in this country –they know that’s not true. We know because of the polling that says the majority of Americans understand we should be changing these laws — including the majority of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.

There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America. So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer? We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don’t work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns is not borne out by the evidence.

We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it.

And, of course, what’s also routine is that somebody, somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue. Well, this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic. I would ask news organizations — because I won’t put these facts forward — have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been killed through terrorist attacks over the 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. We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?

This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction. When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives. So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations doesn’t make sense.

So, tonight, as those of us who are lucky enough to hug our kids a little closer are thinking about the families who aren’t so fortunate, 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.

And I would particularly ask America’s gun owners — who are using those guns properly, safely, to hunt, for sport, for protecting their families — to think about whether your views are properly being represented by the organization that suggests it’s speaking for you.

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.

Thank you.

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

44 thoughts on “Obama: Change Gun Laws, Thoughts & Prayers Not Enough

  1. ANOTHER mass gun shooting by some lunatic in the USA.
    ONCE AGAIN…Americans are still trying to figure out the solution to
    these gun shootings:. Is it “more guns”, “less guns” , “more mental
    heath care”, “more religion”,

    “less bullying” , “more armed guards” etc.

    Hey, Americans!! Just Look around you at the rest of the civilized world.
    Every other developed country in the world has ALREADY figured out how NOT make mass gun shootings a monthly news event.

    England, Sweden,
    Spain, Italy, Japan, New Zealand. Spain , Sweden, Finland, Denmark,
    Greece, Austria ,Canada, Australia, South Korea, Taiwan, China, France,
    Germany…all the other ADVANCED DEVELOPED countries of the world DON’T
    have these monthly shooting MASSACRES.

    Only in the USA have gun mass gun shootings become a WEEKLY ritual.


    It’s simple. Because other countries take gun ownership SERIOUSLY.
    in other countries can’t just walk into Guns Galore (the store near Ft
    Hood that has the distinction of having sold guns to TWO mass gun killers…so far) and buy an assault
    rifle… like a 6 pack of beer.

    Meanwhile….owning a owning a weapon that can cause mass destruction in the US is a JOKE.
    can own a gun….”raging racists”. the mentally insane, the blind, drug
    addicts, alcoholics, suspected terrorists, disgruntled employees,people
    with uncontrollable rage, 4 year old toddlers, even people who don’t
    know which end of the gun is front…ANYONE..can own a deadly weapon
    that can cause mass destruction.

    Yet Americans are still scratching their heads trying to figure out
    why THEY are the only DEVELOPED country on earth with monthly gun mass
    shootings and massacres?

    When all the other ADVANCED countries around the world have already
    solved a problem that Americans still keep having month after
    month…year after year…and Americans STILL can’t figure out why they
    are the only one left with the problem.– It’s probably because

    Americans don’t have enough common sense to learn from other people.

    They have to keep making the same mistake over and over again.

    It’s called STUPIDITY.

  2. Wake up people and listen to what President Obama is saying.

    President Obama says the arguments that more guns will make the US more safe are false. “Does anyone believe that?”

    He knows that with each event that takes place the environment is getting more ripe for the picking. The President does not have to do anything but wait and when he says we have become numb who is he talking about? He is using the situations to bring more of that change you can believe in by appealing to his base and the press not the majority in this country. If you control the TV, Music, Movies and Radio with social change it’s just a matter of time that people will actually say your right Mr. President guns should not be in the hands of “CERTAIN” people. If your old, suffer from depression, take certain medications, have certain health issues, can’t afford to feed yourself, can’t work and are on disability, have a family with a history of violence the list is endless. Eventually it will cost to have guns by permit which will be illegal to do but it will be tried making it too costly to own them. I have never seen a President so hell bent against something the majority of Americans already have. How are you going to fix it Mr. President? Are you going to force all of us to turn our guns over to the government and radically go after those who refuse? Hey Mr. President, when you stop the insane killings of Blacks by Blacks in Chicago then I will listen to what you have to say. You actually have a better chance of fixing climate change and that is never going to happen.

  3. Rural area, lots of hunting. Exactly what are “gun laws” supposed to do to stop what appears to be an epidemic? How about as a first step stop publicizing the names of the mental cases that do this?

  4. The horse is already out of the barn, Pres. Obama. Guns are everywhere, and the more afraid people get of the shootings, the more guns will get sold, stolen. borrowed, and shot! Accidents and purposeful shootings are part of the relapse of our culture to the wild west, and we have the horrors of terror broadcast every day. Are we frightened? Of course we are. Do we feel hospitable to strangers? No we do not. We make plans for survival these days.

    Killing IS an option now…and it gets great press for attention seekers. Go ahead…do it because you can. (Like “climbing Mt. Everest because it’s there.”) You have a depressed demographic, rich and poor who are in fight or flight readiness.

    How will you recall all the guns? The NRA will give you flack. They have the constitution on their side. We citizens may defend ourselves, and if the enemy is coming with guns, well, it seems reasonable for us to use such things in self-defense. Even to a sober grandmother who hates guns!

    I don’t think you can do it. You talk, but you don’t do things except veto and talk and placate enemies and talk. Our rank and file soldiers are not supported properly, during and especially after service.

    I can talk too, but I have said my say for today.

  5. He must have forgotten about his home state of Illinois. Chicago has the most strict gun laws laws in the country. Since 2012 6000 shootings…1679 murders.

  6. I so respect Obama for this remark. It really is disconcerting to hear all the “our prayers and thoughts are with you” after some really nasty traumatic event occurs. All to damn late and all too damn egotistical if you ask me. The guns laws need to be reconsidered (how’s that for apolitical statement?). We are is a sad state of affairs in this country (to hell with the rest of the world).

  7. Just do it by Executive Order. Obama can do everything by Executive Order including overturning the Supreme Court and the Constitution himself. Can’t he?

  8. The gun nutjobs will never accept any compromise until all our children are massacred by their kin. Not only that but to add insult to injury the first thing they post on tragedies like this is something along the lines of “the liberals fault for not arming everyone, i wont give my 20 guns up!” People have no right to kill so easily and indiscriminately.

  9. The president is right. You can see the frustration on his face. our country is a joke due to our lame ass congress that’s bought and sold by the NRA and other lobbies on other issues. What a mess we have made here!

  10. Arguments that more gun laws will make us safe are false.

    Obama’s hometown of Chicago has gun laws coming out its arse. No one feels safe there.

  11. The logic of the President’s statements

    is faulty, since places such as Chicago

    and New York with stringent gun laws

    have proportionally far greater numbers of gun related deaths…

  12. The authorities fail to protect the citizens once again. The proposed solution is to further restrict the citizens ability to protect themselves. There are sheep and there are wolves. I prefer to be a shepard.
    Please do not force me to become one of the sheep.

  13. Actually Oregon has very few gun laws . There is no license required to buy or own a firearm . there is no waiting period to buy one. No laws against assault weapons . There is no firearm registration. very odd state.

  14. Increase the number of guns in our society and more truants will get their hands on a gun, guaranteed.

  15. Of course the President is right- we do need more stringent state and local gun laws!
    The state of Illinois and the city of Chicago lead the way in progressive gun laws.

    Oh, wait….

  16. The call for more anti gun laws without any evidence of whether they would have prevented this tragedy is clear evidence of a non fact based agenda.

  17. My solution is to accept responsibility for my own safety. Incidents like this make it very clear that you can not depend on the government to keep you safe.

  18. Yet our President goes on the air to call for more anti gun laws without even knowing if they would have prevented this. You support that don’t you?

  19. exactly right – gun laws are only followed by Law abiding citizens. The background check system has been proven to not even work – criminals and felons have successfully gone through the process. But in the end…. criminals will run free if the citizens are disarmed. Finally – the second amendment has two purposes – right of self defense of all law abiding citizens and the right of the people to protect themselves from a tyrannical government (if that would to occur). Has nothing to do with ensuring the military is armed – that is inherently the job of the government and has nothing to do with the 2nd amendment

  20. that is ignorant. Number of guns directly correlated to crime. there are more guns today in the US than 10 years ago – yet number of actual firearm homicides have continually dropped. Please stick to the facts

  21. Yes they need to be reconsidered. A stolen firearm should not be treated like a stolen iPod. Possesion of an illegal firearm should be considered a most grievous crime. Suppressors should not be class 3. There is a very long list of changes that should be made.

  22. I agree with your statement: people have no right to kill – but that is about it. You do not need a gun to kill. I bet you would sing a different tune when your loved one is physically threatened by a criminal in your own home

  23. you are 100% correct. They even stated “military veterans took positions at the doors…” but they were not permitted to carry. If they were – the number of deaths would obviously have been less

  24. Every country on your list has had mass killings in the last decade. Your hatred of guns will never stop people bent on destruction.

  25. Okay, NRA – put your chin in my hand and let’s talk. I’m old (73) and from Texas – and I grew up with guns – WW2 don’t you know – and I live on a farm where guns are simply something we have to use now and again to keep our birds and animals from being killed. But that’s not the point. There was a time when NRA was really cool because it taught people that were not into guns how to use them, how to clean them and care for them, how to clear a jammed gun, how to shoot them (to be sure to look behind what your shooting at so you don’t accidentally shoot a cow), how to climb through a fence without shooting yourself and that they were not the final solution to anything. Please (this is your chance) go back to the principals of the old NRA. You were about gun education – not just being afraid that the ‘guvment’ was going to take your guns away. By the way – No one is planning to take anyone’s guns away- I know I’m a very liberal democrat.
    I couldn’t be NRA because I was a female but my brother was a ‘NRA master’ (shot and taught big bore) and he made sure that what you taught him was passed on to me. That’s what you need to be now – the solution – not the problem. I can’t believe the people I know that own guns – they are totally ignorant about how to care, clean, clear jams etc. They just buy them, point them and shoot them (WOW dangerous). More important. they don’t realize how final death is. My father took me hunting – I killed Bamby a bunch and Bamby’s mom and dad until it got really ridiculous because Bamby couldn’t shoot back. You used to teach all that.
    So – if people need a license to drive a car because cars can kill, why don’t you build your membership by offering the education people who own guns need? In fact insist on it. Maybe gun users need to pass a test?
    just saying

  26. No, they have mass bombing and stabbings; and the crime rates in Britain & Australia have climbed astronomically since they banned most guns.

  27. At 72 your statement “and I grew up with guns – WW2 don’t you know” is irrelevant as you were 2 years old when it ended. If there were an amendment in our constitution about motor vehicles I might agree with you.

  28. Yes but the mass shootings continue. That is an unnecessary evil that we will combat in a few different ways. If you have no concrete suggestions to offer please do us a favor and step aside.

  29. Gun control is about education and parenting. We live in a place where the politicians take from the schools to fight wars not of the peoples choice. Then we create a financial environment where even in a middle class family both parents are working. Education coupled with good parenting goes a long way. Give the kids an education and the parents a helping hand. We must rebuild the trust on which this country was founded, as current politics continually show the distrust. “We” elect a certain politician based on their morals and campaign. No morals and campaigns funded by big business, leaving room for the little guy where? Its time for a change and more laws to interpret case by case is not the answer.

  30. I have one – holding the parents of underage mass murders fully accountable!!! I have no problem taking full accountability for any and every crime that could be committed by my children. As a matter of fact -0 I would do so in a heartbeat.