Obama renews plea for gun control over church shooting

Washington, June 20 (IANS) In the wake of the horrific mass shooting at a historic American church, President Barack Obama has made another call for gun control and a national conversation on the scourge of mass shootings in America.

“We need a change in attitude,” Obama told the annual meeting of the US Conference of Mayors in San Francisco Friday with the country “shocked and heartbroken” by Wednesday’s shooting deaths of nine churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina.

“Now is the time for mourning and for healing,” he said Thursday after the shooting. “But let’s be clear: at some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”

Obama then acknowledged that with Republicans in control of the Congress, any meaningful action was unlikely in the face of a powerful gun lobby. But he said on Friday he wasn’t resigned to inaction in Congress.

“We have to move public opinion,” Obama said. “We have to feel a sense of urgency. Ultimately Congress will follow the people.”

Obama last made a push to tighten gun control laws in the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

The lack of action in Washington, he said Friday, wasn’t an excuse to ignore a problem that took the lives of 11,000 Americans in 2013 alone.

“I refuse to act as if this is the new normal or to pretend that it’s simply sufficient to grieve and that any mention of us doing something to stop it is somehow politicising the problem,” he said.

The President suggested that tighter gun laws can be passed despite a lack of bipartisan support from Congress.

“We have to shift how we think about this issue and we have the capacity to change, but we have to build a sense of urgency about it,” he said.

Obama’s second call for tougher gun laws came even as Louisiana’s Indian-American Republican Governor Bobby Jindal took political pot shots at him calling his sombre reflection on all too frequent mass shootings and gun violence as “completely shameful.”

“I think it was completely shameful,” said Jindal a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate.

“Within 24 hours we’ve got the president trying to score cheap political points,” said Jindal suggesting Obama’s “job as commander-in-chief is to help the country begin the healing process.”

Former Texas governor Rick Perry, another Republican, too criticised Obama calling Wednesday’s massacre an “accident” though his campaign quickly clarified that he meant “incident.”

Asked about Obama’s call for more gun control to prevent tragedies like Chrleston, Perry told Newsmax: “This is the M.O. of this administration anytime there is a accident like this.”

“You know, the president’s clear. He doesn’t like for Americans to have guns, and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message.”

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