Obama says SC church shooting shows racism remains a ‘blight’ in US

SAN FRANCISCO — In the aftermath of the South Carolina shooting at a black church, President Barack Obama told U.S. mayors on Friday that racism remains a “blight” that the United States has to “combat together.”

Obama also reiterated his support for gun control legislation, saying tragedies like the one in South Carolina call for a response beyond grief.

This is a developing story. CNN’s earlier story is below.

President Barack Obama on Thursday called the nine deaths in the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting “senseless murders” and suggested more gun control is needed in the wake of the tragedy.

“Any death of this sort is a tragedy. Any shooting involving multiple victims is a tragedy,” said Obama, as Vice President Joe Biden stood alongside him. “There is something particularly heartbreaking about death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace.”

Obama spoke of the personal connections he and first lady Michelle Obama had to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where they knew several members.

“We knew their pastor, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who, along with eight others gathered in prayer and fellowship, was murdered last night,” Obama said. “And to say our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families and their community doesn’t say enough to convey the heartache and the sadness and the anger that we feel.”

Obama declined to comment on specific details of the investigation, which currently centers on 21-year-old suspect Dylann Roof, a white man who was taken into custody late Thursday morning in Shelby, North Carolina, authorities have said.

But the President said the shooting should refocus attention on preventing potential killers from getting their hands on guns.

“We do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun,” Obama said at the White House. “At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this kind of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. It is in our power to do something about it.”

Obama also said he’s had to “make statements like this too many times,” a reference to some of the rampages that have occurred during his presidency. Since Obama took office in 2009, the U.S. has been shaken by multiple high-profile mass killings involving guns, including shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and two separate incidents at Fort Hood.

“Communities like (Charleston) have had to endure tragedies like this too many times,” he said.

Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul, however, was skeptical that a government solution was available.

“What kind of person goes in a church and shoots nine people? There’s a sickness in our country. There’s something terribly wrong, but it isn’t going to be fixed by your government,” the Kentucky senator said at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference in Washington.

Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association declined to comment following the President’s remarks Thursday afternoon, saying it was sticking to the same policy it has followed after similar incidents.

“The NRA will not be making any public statements until the facts are known,” spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told CNN.

Thursday isn’t the first time Obama has used a shooting tragedy in the United States to make a renewed call for toughening gun ownership laws. Bolstering restrictions on gun sales became a top White House priority immediately following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook, which killed 20 children and left a total of 28 people dead.

Advocates for tougher gun laws rallied behind a bipartisan measure that would have mandated background checks on every gun sale. The bill was seen as the best chance for any type of new gun restriction to gain approval on Capitol Hill, where many lawmakers balked at imposing bans on assault weapons or high-capacity magazines.

But even the background check measure failed to gain enough support in the Senate in April 2013, and the issue of gun control has largely remained off the agenda in Washington since.

Without congressional support, Obama has signed dozens of unilateral executive actions meant to quell gun violence. But broad actions like creating a universal background check law or banning certain types of ammunition would still require lawmakers’ approval.

A year ago, Obama said it was “stunning” that Congress wasn’t able to get behind a single piece of gun control legislation after the Sandy Hook shooting. He called the failure to expand background checks to handgun sales his “biggest frustration” as president.

Obama on Thursday conceded that the current political arrangement in Washington — where Republicans control both chambers of Congress — means any movement on gun control laws remains unlikely during his presidency.

“The politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now,” he said, adding that acknowledging the steady beat of shootings — and their perpetrators’ access to guns — was a first step.

“At some point it’s going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it, and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively,” he said.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Officer-involved shooting in Nye County
The Nye County Sheriff's Office gives information about a shooting in Pahrump on Thursday night after a man began firing shots outside of his home. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Law Enforcement Active Shooter Training Exercise
Multiple Las Vegas Valley law enforcement agencies held an active shooter drill at the Department of Public Safety’s Parole and Probation office on December 6, 2018. Officials set up the training exercise to include multiple active shooters, a barricaded suspect and multiple casualties. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Public memorial service for Jerry Herbst
Archiving effort hits milestone at Clark County Museum
The Clark County Museum catalogs the final item from the bulk of Route 91 Harvest festival artifacts. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Final Route 91 Harvest festival remembrance objects catalogued at Clark County Museum
The last of the more than 17,000 items left at the makeshift memorial near the Las Vegas sign after the Oct. 1 shootings have been catalogued at the Clark County Museum in Las Vegas. The final item was a black-and-white bumper sticker bearing "#VEGASSTRONG. An additional 200 items currently on display at the museum will be catalogued when the exhibit comes down. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dozier execution timeline
Scott Dozier was set to be executed July 11, 2018, at the Ely State Prison. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez delayed the execution.
Grand Jury Indicts Constable for theft
A Clark County grand jury indicted Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. A Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation prompted the criminal probe. The newspaper found Mitchell wrote himself thousands in checks, took out cash at ATMs and traveled on county funds. He faces four felony counts of theft and a county of public misconduct. Mitchell and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
93-year-old WWII veteran arrested during visit to VA hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, 93, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest during his visit to VA hospital on Friday, Nov. 30. (Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco_
Pearl Harbor survivor struggles in her senior years
Winifred Kamen, 77, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as an infant, works a 100 percent commission telemarketing job to make ends meet. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
Man shot in Las Vegas traffic stop had knife, police say
Police said the man fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop in downtown Las Vegas had a “homemade knife.” Demontry Floytra Boyd, 43, died Saturday at University Medical Center from multiple gunshot wounds after officer Paul Bruning, 48, shot him during a traffic stop. Bruning pulled Boyd over on suspicion of driving recklessly at 7:41 a.m. near Sunrise Avenue and 18th Street.
Catahoula dogs rescued from home in Moapa Valley
Catahoula dogs were brought to The Animal Foundation after being rescued from home in Moapa Valley.
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses in California wildfire
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses she suffered in California's Woolsey Fire in Malibu in November. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benefit dinner for Kerry Clasby, the Intuitive Forager
Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe in Las Vegas talks about having a benefit for Kerry Clasby, known as the Intuitive Forager, who suffered losses on her farm in California’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former President George H.W. Bush dies at 94
Former President George H.W. Bush has died at the age of 94. He died Friday night in Houston, about eight months after the death of his wife, Barbara.
Las Vegans Celebrate Big Snowfall
Las Vegans celebrate big snowfall at Lee Canyon.
Exploring old mines for denim jeans and other vintage items
Caden Gould of Genoa, Nev. talks about his experiences looking for vintage denim jeans and other items in old mines and other places areas across Nevada and the west.
Officers share photo of dead gunman after Las Vegas shooting
A little over an hour after SWAT officers entered Stephen Paddock's suite at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas police officers far from the scene were already sharing cell phone photos of the dead Oct. 1 gunman.
Frontier jet safely returns to Las Vegas after losing engine piece
Frontier jet safely returns to Las Vegas after losing engine piece. (@FlightAlerts_)
Park Service plans ahead for lower lake levels
National Park Service releases new plans to maintain access to the water as Lake Mead continues to shrink.
Women claim abuse at Florence McClure Women's Correctional Facility
Current and ex-inmates, including Merry West, are suing Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Facility, claiming abuse and inadequate medical care. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Butte County Sheriff's Office Body Cam Footage
Bodycam video from Butte County (Calif.) Sheriff's Office Deputy Aaron Parmley, who was in Paradise November 8 helping with evacuations. (Butte County Sheriff's Office)
NDOT construction blasting along State Route 106
NDOT construction blasting along State Route 160, near Mt. Potosi Road, in Clark County as part of a $59 million, 6-mile-long highway widening project that began this summer. (Nevada Department of Transportation)
Car crashes into Papa Murphy's Pizza shop
A driver crashed a car into a western Las Vegas Valley pizza shop on Tuesday morning, police said. (Joe Stanhibel/Special to Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Low-lake-level pumping station nears completion
Barnard Construction and the Southern Nevada Water Authority give one last tour before the new low-lake-level pumping station is activated.
Trailer: Valley of Fires
Sultan’s Playroom from Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada
Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada’s Scott Rosenzweig talks about granting Sultan Bouras Souissi’s wish, and what went into building it. (John Hornberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jim Marsh brings historic replica of rural church to Amargosa Valley
Jim Marsh talks during the opening of the Chapel at Longstreet, a replica of an 1874 Catholic church built in the mining town of Belmont, Nev., at Marsh's Longstreet Casino in Amargosa Valley, Nev. Chase Stevens/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas Livestock recycling Strip food waste
Las Vegas Livestock collects and recycles food from many Las Vegas Strip companies. (Nicole Raz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like