President Obama was visibly angry as he spoke about America’s latest mass shooting yesterday. And for good reason. (More)
“Our thoughts and prayers are not enough”
President Obama has a reputation for keeping his cool in any circumstance. But he let his anger show yesterday:
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.
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.
“It’s incontrovertibly true that more people in America die from gun violence each year than die from terrorism”
President Obama challenged the news media to compare the number of Americans killed by terrorism to the number of Americans killed by gun violence, and the Washington Post’s Phillip Bump was quick to respond:
It’s incontrovertibly true that more people in America die from gun violence each year than die from terrorism. How “terrorism” is defined can be tricky, as we’ve noted in the past, but we can look at data compiled by the Global Terrorism Database at the University of Maryland.
It estimates that 18 people died in terror attacks in the United States last year – of 3,521 total between 1970 and 2014. By comparison, the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive figures that 9,948 people have been killed by gun violence so far in 2015.
Bump includes the usual quibbles and caveats about other causes that kill more people than either terrorism or gun violence, but concludes:
There are a lot of other factors that can be overlaid here to add some gray space: preventability, trends, definitions. Regardless, it’s clear that terrorism holds an outsized role in political debate for the demonstrated threat it poses to American citizens. It’s less clear, using solely the metric of annual deaths, that gun violence should then necessarily be the first priority.
The Post’s Ana Swanson and Jeff Guo cite CDC data showing that more young Americans die each year from gun violence than in car accidents, and Christopher Ingraham presents data on the 294 mass shootings in just 274 days, in the U.S. just this year. Yes, that’s more than one mass shooting per day. And Max Ehrenfreund notes mass shootings and active shooter incidents are becoming more common, even as overall crime rates are falling.
Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall expresses the frustrating, infuriating cause of President Obama’s anger:
I’m embarrassed to say I get more numb to these shooting tragedies and I think it is because at this point we know with a moral certainty that absolutely nothing will be done to keep guns out of the hands of the rageful, narcissistic, delusional or psychopathic individuals who commit these atrocities.
As a society, we’ve made our choice.
I send my prayers and best wishes to the victims and their loved ones.
I disagree that we’ve made that choice “as a society.” But Republicans in Congress have made that choice. The bodies will keep stacking up until that changes … and that’s why President Obama was so angry.
Photo Credit: U.S. News & World Report