POLITICS

Obama On Oregon Shooting: 'We've Become Numb To This'

The president said the public is responsible for helping strengthen gun regulations.

President Barack Obama sounded exasperated on Thursday as he once again responded to a mass shooting, this time talking about the rampage at an Oregon community college earlier in the day. 

Obama expressed frustration that it was necessary for him to frequently console victims' families and that he was again calling for new gun control regulations. 

"Somehow this has become routine," Obama said from the White House. "We've become numb to this." 

Ten people were killed and nine injured at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, according to Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin.

Responding to mass shootings has been an unfortunate theme of Obama's presidency. By one count, Obama has issued statements following at least 14 other mass killings. Obama called for tighter gun control laws after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, but came up empty-handed. He once said the "greatest frustration" of his presidency has been the failure to pass "common-sense gun safety laws."

Citing previous shootings that resulted in no significant changes in the availability of weapons, Obama said politicians and the public are accountable. 

"We are collectively answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction," Obama said. 

He also urged the news media to break its template for covering mass shootings. It would be a powerful message, he said, if journalists produced stories comparing the number of terrorism victims to the number of people killed by guns in the United States.

Anticipating criticism from conservatives who might say he's politicizing a tragedy, Obama said that's exactly what should be done to make the country safer. 

"We should politicize it," he said. "As I said each time we see one of these mass shooting, our thoughts and prayers are not enough. … It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel."

Throughout the remarks, Obama sought to avoid condemning gun owners en masse. He repeatedly said the vast majority of gun owners responsibly handle their weapons. But referencing opinion polls showing widespread support for tighter gun laws, Obama said the country could be far safer with "modest" regulations. He sounded mystified by opponents who believe widely available guns increase safety. 

"How can you with a straight face make the argument that more guns will make us safer?" Obama asked. 

​This article has been updated with revised casualty figures for Thursday's shooting.

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