On Thursday, President Obama spoke about the mass shooting that killed nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina.
“Any death of this sort is a tragedy,” Obama said in the televised address. “Any shooting involving multiple victims is a tragedy. There is something particularly heartbreaking about a death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace, in a place of worship. Emmanuel is more than church. It is a place of worship that was founded by African Americans seeking liberty. This is a church that was burned to the ground because its worshippers worked to end slavery.”
He then addressed the problems of gun violence and urged Americans to take action.
“Let’s be clear—this kind of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries,” he said. “It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. It is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognizing the politics in this town. But it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge it. At some point it is going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it and shift how we deal with gun violence collectively.”
This time last year, Obama called the nation’s political failure to act on guns the “biggest frustration” of his presidency.
Shortly before the president’s press conference on Thursday, the suspected gunman behind the attack, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, was arrested in Shelby, North Carolina.