President Barack Obama recently spoke about the shooting in Roseburg, Oregon, explaining that mass shootings were so frequent they were becoming routine – along with the response afterward. He called for expanded gun control measures, echoing the sentiments of the majority of Americans, but not some of the residents of Roseburg.
On Thursday, Obama made his remarks on the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon that left nine people dead (not including the shooter) and several more injured. The Washington Post described the President as “visibly frustrated” in the press conference.
He thanked the federal law enforcement officers in Oregon for saving lives, complimented the people of Roseburg, and tried to voice some of the grief that the locals were feelings. But Obama explained it wasn’t enough.
“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.”
The President went on to explain that America is the “only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months.”
Obama made a similar claim in June, after the Charleston shooting, saying “this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.”
Politifact rated that line as “mostly false,” noting the 2011 bombing and shooting in Norway and the 2009 shooting incident in Winnenden, Germany, as just a few examples of recent mass killings in other advanced nations. Likewise, they found some developed nations had a higher mass-shooting fatalities per 100,000 people rate than the United States.
Still, other countries similar to the U.S., such as Australia and the U.K., did have exceptionally low incident rates for mass shootings along with strict gun control laws – a fact mentioned in Obama’s speech.
He also said the frequency of tragic events like the Oregon incident has made all of this routine.
“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.”
Equally routine, President Obama called for “common-sense gun-safety laws.”
“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.”
According to the Pew Research Center, Obama is correct.
A poll conducted in July of this year found that 85 percent of Americans favor background checks on all private and gun show sales (including 79 percent of Republicans). Likewise, the pollsters found that 79 percent favored laws to prevent the mentally ill from purchasing firearms and 70 percent wanted a federal database to track gun sales.
Still, the Guardian found the locals at Roseburg were wary of both President Obama and gun control measures despite the shooting.
In the local gun store, there’s a cardboard cutout of President Obama in an Arab keffiyeh scarf with a sign attached saying “gun salesman of the year.”
Obama’s calls for gun controls often send people to the store to purchase firearms, in case future reforms make them unavailable.
The Oregon store’s owner Candi Kinney said that she had to order more assault rifles, explaining that there was always a surge in sales after a mass shooting.
The Guardian’s interviews with the Oregon locals resulted in a unanimous desire – that the shooting would result in more armed citizens, not the gun safety laws President Obama is promoting.