WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama, responding to the 15th mass shooting in his seven years at the White House, has accused the Americans of having become numb to such killings.
“Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine,” Mr Obama warned. “We’ve become numb to this.”
Also on Friday, police officials told reporters that the gunman, who killed 10 people at a local college in Oregon on Thursday, was a white supremacist.
Also read: 10 killed in US school shooting
The 26-year old gunman, Chris Harper Mercer, came to Umpqua Community College, Oregon, armed with a rifle, body armour and extra ammunition. He first asked people to state their religion, indicating that he wanted to target the followers of a particular faith. But he soon got nervous and opened fire inside a language class, killing 10 people and injuring 10 others.
Early investigations showed that Mercer was a Nazi devotee and gun fanatic. He was a regular visitor to social media sites and often watched videos of previous mass shootings.
One of his social media pages includes posts of Irish Republican Army propaganda.
President Obama, who was visibly upset as he addressed the nation on the latest mass attack, once again appealed for tighter gun laws to prevent future attacks.
He made similar appeals after previous shootings as well but a strong opposition from the powerful gun lobby prevents the US government from tightening gun laws.
“I’d ask the American people to think about how they can … change these laws to save lives and to let young people grow up,” Mr Obama said.
He reminded the American people that there was a gun for roughly every man, woman and child in the United States. He asked how “anyone with a straight face can make the argument that more guns will make people safer”?
“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,” Mr Obama said. “But based on my experience as president, I can’t guarantee that. And that’s terrible to say.”
AP adds: President Obama spoke at times with anger in his voice and the muscles in his jaw tensed up as he seemed to struggle to find the right words.
He said it’s clear that anyone responsible for such carnage has a sickness in his mind. He said other nations also have mentally ill residents who want to harm others, but the United States is alone in the sheer depth of the problem.
“We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months,” he said.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd , 2015