President Barack Obama said Wednesday that gun control won, not a political movement, was the key to stopping the “vicious” cycle of gun deaths in the United States.
Obama was responding to a question about the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, that left 14 people dead and 22 injured.
Obama, in his first televised comments since the attack, said gun control efforts have been the answer to the violence and that the “breathtaking” and “unprecedented” toll of gun homicides and suicides are not part of a political solution.
“I don’t think we’ve solved this problem in the political arena,” Obama said at a White House press briefing.
“The violence that we’ve seen in recent months, the mass shootings and the deaths, is not just the result of the political process.
It’s the result, in large part, of the vicious cycle that we have to put aside.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama was referring to the “very dangerous” gun violence that is taking place in the country and the “horrific toll” of gun suicides.
“If we’re serious about the fight against gun violence, we need to be serious about preventing people from having a gun, because then they have a gun and the guns are used against them,” Earnest told reporters.
“And the guns that are used are not just used in the home.
They’re used in crimes, including mass shootings, where the people involved in those killings are not going to be able to hide from their crimes.”
So if we are serious about fighting gun violence and making sure that we keep guns out of the hands of criminals and making it easier to get background checks, then we’ve got to be willing to say, ‘OK, well, if you want to be a part of this, you’re going to have to give up your gun rights, but you’re also going to give us a way to get to that gun.’
“Obama, who was in San Diego for a summit with leaders from the Middle East, said the United Kingdom was the country with the highest rates of gun ownership, while Australia had the lowest rate.
The United States has the highest rate of gun homicide per capita in the world, while its gun homicide rate is about twice the national average, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
The president also urged gun owners to stop using their guns as weapons.
Obama said that gun owners should “stop using your guns as a weapon to hurt others” and that it is not the responsibility of police to get involved in disputes.
The comments came as police said on Wednesday that they have recovered five guns and two handguns after a man fired two shots at police outside a suburban Philadelphia apartment building.
Police have also recovered a rifle.