Barack Obama broke his silence on the recent string of mass shootings across American to address the most recent instance in Boulder, Colorado, where 10 people were killed, including a police officer, after a man opened fire in a grocery store.
The former president released a statement on Tuesday saying in part that he and Michelle Obama were grieving for the victims and their families. But Obama also challenged lawmakers to step up and enact stricter gun control and reform legislation to “make it harder for those with hate in their hearts to buy weapons of war.”
Noting that the recent spate of mass shootings — seven in the past seven days, including last week’s deadly rampage at Asian spas in and near Atlanta that killed eight people — coincided with states moving to relax COVID-19 guidelines, Obama suggested that a public health emergency shouldn’t be the only thing that prevents these types of public shootings that leave multiple people killed and injured.
“A one-in-a-lifetime pandemic cannot be the only thing that slows mass shootings in this country,” Obama said in his statement. “We shouldn’t have to choose between one type of tragedy and another. It’s time for leaders everywhere to listen to the American people when they say enough – because this is a normal we can no longer afford.”
Read Obama’s full statement below.
Obama’s statement preceded one from President Joe Biden during which he expressed similar sentiments. He made an emotional appeal for gun reform, including background checks — something that accused mass murderer Robert Aaron Long didn’t have t go through when he bought a gun on the same day he went on a deadly shooting spree in Georgia last week.
The nation’s failed efforts at gun control came into focus shortly after the shooting in Boulder happened. In particular, the shooting drew attention to a judge ruling last week against a ban on assault rifles in Colorado. The Boulder gunman used an AR-15. The NRA called the decision “something to celebrate.”
That ruling in district court prevented Boulder’s ban on assault weapons — enacted in 2018 — from effectively being enforced. It was not immediately clear when and where the gunman obtained the assault rifle he reportedly used Monday.
Calling for gun control and reform has been a familiar yet fruitless refrain following mass shootings.
There were at least 41 mass shootings during Obama’s presidency, including the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in 2012 that killed 26 people and the Charleston church shooting that killed nine parishioners in 2015.
There were at least 20 more mass shootings during Trump’s presidency, including at least 20 people killed in a shooting in El Paso, Texas, nine killed in a bar in Dayton, Ohio, and 10 killed in an office building complex in Virginia Beach — all in 2019 alone.