President Barack Obama said Tuesday the U.S. can do more to prevent deadly gun violence like the shooting attack on a women's clinic in Colorado last week.
"We are rightly determined to prevent terrorist attacks wherever they occur, whether in the United States or with friends and allies like France," Obama said at a news conference in Paris where he and other world leaders were attending a U.N. climate summit. "And yet in the United States, we have the power to do more to prevent what is just a regular process of gun homicides that is unequaled by multiples of five, six, 10.
"This just doesn't happen in other countries," Obama said, referring to last week's shooting on a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A 57-year-old drifter named Robert Lewis Dear is accused of first degree murder in the hours-long shooting spree, charged with killing three people and wounding nine.
"Congress, states, local governments will have to act to make sure we are preventing people who are deranged or have violent tendencies from getting guns," Obama said.
The U.S. leader has repeatedly called for tougher gun regulations during his presidency after mass shooting rampages at schools, movie theaters and other public places; but, with the right to gun ownership embedded in the U.S. Constitution, pro-gun lawmakers, supported by the National Rifle Association, have successfully fought efforts to tighten access to weapons.
The Planned Parenthood incident has touched a nerve in U.S. political circles, because it involves two contentious issues, gun control and the fact that the group performs abortions and provides tissue from aborted fetuses to researchers studying cures for diseases.
Numerous Republican lawmakers are trying to cut more than $500 million in U.S. funding for Planned Parenthood after secretly recorded videos were released in recent months showing some of the group's officials cavalierly discussing the sale of the fetal tissues. Planned Parenthood subsequently said it would no longer accept any money for handing the fetal material to the researchers.
The leading 2016 Democratic presidential contender, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, attacked Republicans on both abortion rights and gun control at a rally Sunday.
"In Congress and on the campaign trail, Republicans that claim they just hate big government are only too happy to have government step in when it comes to women's bodies and health," she said. "It is wrong, and we are not going to stand for it."
Clinton added, "How many more Americans need to die before we take action? Common sense steps like comprehensive background checks, closing the loopholes that let guns fall into the wrong hands, even people on the terrorist watch list."
Republicans, including the party's presidential frontrunner, billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump, said Planned Parenthood's claim that "an alarming increase in hateful rhetoric" leads to "hateful violence" had nothing to do with last Friday's Colorado incident.
Trump called the shooting suspect "a sick person," adding that he believes the gunman is a "maniac" and "extremist."