Obama says it's high time to address issue of gun violence

Sep 23, 2013, 13:49 IST | PTI

US President Barack Obama today joined the memorial service of the family members of those who were recently killed in the Navy Yard shootout and said that the nation can no longer accept such horrific shootouts and it is high time to address the issue of gun violence

"We can't accept this. As Americans bound in grief and love, we must insist here today there is nothing normal about innocent men and women being gunned down where they work. There is nothing normal about our children being gunned down in their classrooms. There is nothing normal about children dying in our streets from stray bullets," Obama said.

U.S. President Barack Obama and wife Michelle attend the memorial service. Pic: AFP  

Delivering somber speech at the memorial service for the 12 victims of the Navy Yard mass shooting, including an Indian-American, Obama said no other advanced nation endures this kind of violence. "Here in America, the murder rate is three times what it is in other developed nations. The murder rate with guns is ten times what it is in other developed nations. And there is nothing inevitable about it. It comes about because of decisions we make or fail to make. And it falls upon us to make it different," he said. 

Before his speech, Obama also met members of the family of victims. Obama said it is clear that they need to do a better job of securing military facilities and deciding who gets access to them. "And as Commander in Chief, I have ordered a review of procedures up and down the chain, and I know that Secretary Hagel is moving aggressively on that," he said.

"As a society, it's clear we've got to do a better job of ensuring that those who need mental health care actually get it, and that in those efforts we don't stigmatize those who need help. Those things are clear, and we've got to move to address them," he said. 

"But we Americans are not an inherently more violent people than folks in other countries. We're not inherently more prone to mental health problems. The main difference that sets our nation apart, what makes us so susceptible to so many mass shootings, is that we don't do enough - we don't take the basic, common-sense actions to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people," he said.

"What's different in America is it's easy to get your hands on gun - and a lot of us know this. But the politics are difficult, as we saw again this spring. And that is sometimes where the resignation comes from - the sense that our politics are frozen and that nothing will change," he said. 

"I do not accept that we cannot find a common-sense way to preserve our traditions, including our basic Second Amendment freedoms and the rights of law-abiding gun owners, while at the same time reducing the gun violence that unleashes so much mayhem on a regular basis," Obama said. 

"It may not happen tomorrow and it may not happen next week, it may not happen next month - but it will happen. Because it's the change that we need, and it's a change overwhelmingly supported by the majority of Americans," he added. 

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