A grim-faced and emotional President Obama spoke out Thursday after the massacre at an Oregon college -- lamenting that mass killings have become “routine” in the United States and blasting those who oppose tougher gun laws.
“I hope and pray that I don’t have to come out again in my tenure as president to offer my condolences to families under these circumstances. But based on my experience as president, I can’t guarantee that,” Obama said in the White House briefing room.
It's unclear how many people officially died. According to the governor's office at least 20 people are dead or injured after the shooting Thursday morning at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. ABC News affiliate KATU said that at least 7 had been killed.
The identity of the 20-year-old shooter has not been released.
The president said that just as his remarks on shootings have become routine, so too have the reactions from politicians and opponents of stricter gun regulations.
“Someone will comment and say, ‘Obama politicized this issue.’ Well, this is something we should politicize," he said. "It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic."
Rather than shying away from the political dimension to mass shootings, the president leaned in to it, saying that Thursday’s events were direct products of political decisions –- those made by lawmakers and by those who elect them.
“We collectively are answerable to those families, who lose their loved ones because of our inaction,” he said.
In a veiled reference to groups who have opposed the president’s efforts to tighten gun purchasing laws, he urged firearms owners to reconsider their affiliations.
“I would particularly ask America’s gun owners, who are using those guns properly, safely, to hunt, for sport, or protecting their families, to think about whether your views are properly being represented by the organization that suggests it’s speaking for you,” he said.
The president has said the failure to pass more stringent gun safety laws is one of the greatest frustrations of his presidency thus far.
"If you ask me where has been the one area where I feel that I've been most frustrated and most stymied, it is the fact that the United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which, we do not have sufficient common-sense gun safety laws, even in the face of repeated mass killings," he told the BBC in July.