Why Do Mass Shootings Keep Happening in the U.S.? Barack Obama's Candid Explanation

Months before leaving office, then-President Obama gave a candid explanation why he had been unable to stop mass shootings in the U.S.

Obama to gun owners — I’m not looking to disarm you
Obama to gun owners — I’m not looking to disarm you, PBS town hall from June 6, 2016Credit: Screen grab

Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama had many unfortunate occasions when he was forced to respond to Ameria's gun violence epidemic. From Sandy Hook to Aurora to Orlando, Obama's presidency saw dozens of tragic mass shootings, none worse than the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, which up until today in Las Vegas was the deadliest shooting in the country's history.

Just six days before that tragic night in June 2016, Obama spoke at a PBS town hall and addressed the issue of gun violence, speaking candidly about why he had been unable to affect any change on the issue. Acknowledging that he was about to leave office and that more guns had been sold during his presidency than ever before, Obama explained that as president he was wholly unable to stop dangerous individuals from purchasing weapons capable of mass murder. He said that due to the fear among gun owners that any legislation restricting gun ownership could result in losing their guns, even the most commonsense measure to keep guns away from those deamed dangerous by law enforcement have failed.

Read more: Las Vegas Shooting: What We Know About Gunman Stephen Paddock

Watch the full clip from PBS here:

Credit: PBS

Transcript from PBS Newshour:

DOUG RHUDE, Gun Shop Owner: Knowing that we apply common sense to other issues in our society, specifically like holding irresponsible people accountable for their actions when they drink and drive and kill somebody, and we do that without restricting control of cars and cells phones to the rest of us, the good guys, why then do you and Hillary want to control and restrict and limit gun manufacturers, gun owners and responsible use of guns and ammunition to the rest of us, the good guys, instead of holding the bad guys accountable for their actions?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: First of all, the notion that I or Hillary or Democrats or whoever you want to choose are hell-bent on taking away folks’ guns is just not true.

And I don’t care how many times the NRA says it. I’m about to leave office. There have been more guns sold since I have been president than just about any time in U.S. history. There are enough guns for every man, woman and child in this country.

And at no point have I ever, ever proposed confiscating guns from responsible gun owners. So it’s just not true.

What I have said is precisely what you suggested, which is, why don’t we treat this like every other thing that we use? I just came from a meeting today in the Situation Room in which I got people who we know have been on ISIL Web sites, living here in the United States, U.S. citizens, and we’re allowed to put them on the no-fly list when it comes to airlines, but because of the National Rifle Association, I cannot prohibit those people from buying a gun.

This is somebody who is a known ISIL sympathizer. And if he wants to walk in to a gun store or a gun show right now and buy as much — as many weapons and ammo as he can, nothing’s prohibiting him from doing that, even though the FBI knows who that person is.

So, sir, I just have to say, respectfully, that there is a way for us to have commonsense gun laws. There is a way for us to make sure that lawful, responsible gun owners like yourself are able to use them for sporting, hunting, protecting yourself, but the only way we’re going to do that is if we don’t have a situation in which anything that is proposed is viewed as some tyrannical destruction of the Second Amendment. And that’s how the issue too often gets framed.

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