The latest U.S. mass shooting that claimed the lives of nine people at a community college in Oregon highlights the increasing level of gun violence across the country. It prompted President Barack Obama to again call for strengthening gun control laws in an effort to decrease mass violence.
The routine nature of mass shooting in America will continue unless the country's politics change, Obama said after meeting with reporters at the White House Thursday following news of the latest shooting.
With a look of anger and frustration on his face, Obama spoke forcefully about the college campus shooting. He pointed to U.S. lawmakers' refusal to pass gun control measures that he said would curb mass shootings and reduce the level of gun violence.
Since taking office in 2009, Obama has spoken out forcefully or issued statements following 15 mass shootings, including the 2012 massacre of 20 students and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
The president said the latest mass shooting and news reports of other incidents have become routine in Americans' lives. He urged members of Congress to take action. If not, voters should send a message to their elected officials, he said.
So far this year, there have been nearly 300 mass shootings, more than one per day involving four or more people.
?Call for ‘change of politics’
"I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws, and to save lives," Obama said. "That will require a change of politics on this issue, and it will require that the American people, individually — whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or an independent — when you decide to vote for somebody, are making a determination as to whether this cause of continuing death for innocent people should be a relevant factor in your decision.”
The National Rifle Association, a non-profit organization that advocates for gun rights, believes getting rid of guns will not stop mass shootings or lower firearm deaths. "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," said Wayne LaPierre, the organization's executive vice president after the 2012 school shooting in Connecticut.
In 2015 alone, there have been 45 shootings at schools, according to Shooting Tracker, a website that compiles numbers of firearm deaths. In 2013, the site claims there was one mass shooting every day in the United States.
Observers and lawmakers see the NRA as one of the top three most influential lobbying groups in Washington. Over its history, the organization has influenced legislation and endorsed or opposed various political candidates.
‘We can actually do something about it’
Statistics on the impact of U.S. gun violence paint a grim picture of the number of lives lost. This year alone, about 10,000 people have been killed by firearms in the United States, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Most of the shooting cases in the country are not mass killings, but instead smaller ones involving one or two people that are often not widely reported by media outlets.
A study by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests 316,000 people died from gun violence in the United States between 2004 and 2013. This data covered all manners of death, including homicide, accident and suicide. By comparison, the government agency says 36 people were killed by domestic acts of terrorism over the same period.
In the first half of this year, several large U.S. cities have seen double digit increases in homicides resulting from gun violence. In the nation's third largest city, Chicago, 14 people were shot in a 15-hour period last month. Community leaders have called the out-of-control gun violence acts of domestic terrorism.
President Obama, lashing out at those who oppose gun limits, said he will continue fighting for laws like expanded background checks for people buying guns for the rest of his presidency.
"And each time this happens I'm going to bring this up. Each time this happens I am going to say that we can actually do something about it, but we're going to have to change our laws. And this is not something I can do by myself. I've got to have a Congress and I've got to have state legislatures and governors who are willing to work with me on this," Obama said. "I hope and pray that I don't have to come out again during my tenure as president to offer my condolences to families in these circumstances."