Obama: We can't rely on a 'once-in-a-century pandemic' to slow mass shootings

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Former President Barack Obama joined a chorus of Democratic voices Tuesday calling for reforms to the nation’s gun laws after a mass shooting in Boulder, Colo., left 10 people dead.

“It is long past time for those with the power to fight this epidemic of gun violence to do so,” Obama said in a statement. “It will take time to root out the disaffection, racism and misogyny that fuels so many of these senseless acts of violence. But we can make it harder for those with hate in their hearts to buy weapons of war. We can overcome opposition by cowardly politicians and the pressure of a gun lobby that opposes any limit on the ability of anyone to assemble an arsenal. We can, and we must.”

The massacre in Boulder came less than a week after shootings at three spas in the Atlanta area left eight people dead. They followed a documented lull in mass killings caused, in part, by pandemic lockdowns, according to a database compiled by the Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.

“A once-in-a-century pandemic cannot be the only thing that slows mass shootings in this country,” Obama said. “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 is enough — because this is a normal we can no longer afford.”

Barack Obama
Then-President Barack Obama at a press briefing in the month after the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. (Ken Cedeno/Corbis via Getty Images)

At the White House, President Biden called on Congress to act on gun control measures — including a ban on assault weapons.

“I don't need to wait another minute — or another hour — to take common sense steps that will save lives in the future,” Biden said.

“This shouldn’t be a bipartisan issue. This is an American issue that will save lives — American lives. And we have to act.”

Obama failed to get Congress to pass meaningful gun reforms during his two terms in office, despite repeated mass shootings.

The former president has often called the day he met with the families of 26 people — including 20 children — who were killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012 “the toughest day of my presidency.”

And he considers the failure of Congress to pass gun control legislation in the wake of the massacre one of his biggest disappointments.

“Every time I think about those kids, it makes me mad,” Obama said at a press conference in January 2016, toward the end of his presidency.


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