Obama condemns gun violence at Navy Yard service

U.S. President Barack Obama hugs a family member of a victim slain in the Washington Navy Yard shooting during a memorial service in Washington, September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. President Barack Obama hugs a family member of a victim slain in the Washington Navy Yard shooting during a memorial service in Washington, September 22, 2013. Credit: Reuters

 

President Barack Obama made an impassioned plea on Sunday for Americans to overcome their “creeping resignation” about gun violence and demand tougher gun laws following the country’s latest mass shooting.

“I’m here today to say there’s nothing routine about this tragedy. There’s nothing routine about your loss,” Obama told families at a memorial service for 12 people killed by a gunman last week at the Washington Navy Yard.

“Sometimes I fear there is a creeping resignation that these tragedies are just somehow the way it is,” he said at the outdoor service at Marine Barracks Washington, less than three blocks from the base where three women and nine men died in the attack.

“We must insist here today there is nothing normal about innocent men and women being gunned down where they work,” Obama said.

Authorities have identified the shooter as Aaron Alexis, 34, a former U.S. Navy reservist working as an information technology contractor. He was killed in a gun battle with police.

There were signs that Alexis had untreated mental health issues. Rhode Island police had warned the Navy in August that Alexis had reported “hearing voices” and said he believed people were following him and “sending vibrations into his body.”

Obama said the U.S. military needs to do more to secure its facilities, and he said the country must also make mental health treatment more available.

But he also railed against lax gun laws that he blamed for murder rates in the United States that are three times higher than in other developed nations.

“No other advanced nation endures this kind of violence. None,” he said.

“What’s different in America is it’s easy to get your hands on a gun,” he said.

‘OUGHT TO OBSESS US’

Before the service, Obama and first lady Michelle Obama met privately with families of the victims, all civilians who worked at the complex not far from Capitol Hill.

“These are not statistics,” Obama said, after he spoke about the lives and loves of each of the victims.

But to honor the lives of the victims, Obama said Americans must do more than extend thoughts and prayers to their families.

“It ought to obsess us. It ought to lead us to some sort of transformation,” he said, noting this was the fifth time in his presidency he had spoken at a memorial service after a mass shooting.

Obama proposed new gun laws early this year after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in December.

But Congress rejected his proposals to restrict sales of certain types of guns and require background checks for more types of gun sales.

The measures were fought by the National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups, which said the proposals would infringe on Americans’ constitutional rights.

An NRA leader criticized the Washington Navy Yard on Sunday for not having more personnel carrying guns, saying it left the base “unprotected.”

“This is a tragedy that should not have happened, a memorial service that should not be taking place, and victims that should not be victims,” Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.

Obama on Saturday told supporters that the fight for tougher gun laws is not over and “we’ve got to get back up and go back at it.

But that fight, like Obama’s other policy priorities, is likely to be sidelined by a battle with Congress over the budget that threatens to shut down the government.

Obama told the memorial service that he “cannot accept” that politics are too “frozen” to change gun laws, and urged Americans to demand change.

“By now, though, it should be clear that the change we need will not come from Washington, even when tragedy strikes Washington,” he said.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…