President Barack Obama addressed the Charleston church shooting during a press conference on Thursday afternoon (Jun. 18), issuing a somber message about gun violence and condemning the actions of captured white gunman, Dylann Roof. President Obama also made a call for stronger gun control in the wake of the tragedy and noted killings of this sort don’t happen this frequently in other developed countries.
While citizens in South Carolina are still finding ways to move past what occurred in Wednesday night when Roof killed nine people at a bible study session, the president used the moment to frame a larger discussion about how to move the country forward. Flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, Obama spoke from the White House briefing room while maintaining a stern position. Obama opened by saying he and First Lady Michelle Obama were friends of slain church pastor and state Senator Clementa C. Pinckney.
From the press conference:
Until the investigation is complete, I’m necessarily constrained in terms of talking about the details of the case. But I don’t need to be constrained about the emotions that tragedies like this raise. I’ve had to make statements like this too many times. Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times. We don’t have all the facts, but 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. Now is the time for mourning and for healing.
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. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. But it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge it. And 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.
Obama didn’t mince words in noting that Mother Emanuel AME is a Black church that has been the target of racism in times past, and mentioned that other Black churches across the nation have suffered attacks by those who wish to stamp them out simply because of their color.
Watch President Barack Obama deliver a statement regarding the Charleston church shooting in the clip below.