Barack Obama has joined the increasing calls for stronger gun control measures in wake of a mass shooting that left nearly a dozen people dead.
The former president issued a formal statement Tuesday afternoon, expressing his condolences to the victims’ families while reiterating his push for United States gun reform. Obama’s statement comes just a day after 10 people, including a local police officer, were killed in a shooting at a Boulder, Colorado, grocery store. The 21-year-old suspect was arrested at the scene and has since been charged with 10 counts of murder in the first degree.
“In so many ways, our lives may soon start to return to normal after a long, difficult year filled with so much loss,” Obama wrote in reference to the global pandemic. “But in a normal life, we should be able to buy groceries without fear. We should be able to go to school, or go out with our friends, or worship together without mentally planning our escape if someone shoes up with a gun … We should. But in America, we can’t.”
Obama went on to encourage political leaders to take action in combatting “this epidemic of violence,” while acknowledging that it may take some “time to root out the disaffection, racism and misogyny that fuels so many of these senseless acts of violence.”
“… But we can make it harder for those with hate in their hearts to buy weapons of war,” he continued. “We can overcome opposition by cowardly politicians and the pressure of a gun lobby that opposes any limit on the ability of anyone to assemble an arsenal. We can, and we must.”
The Boulder incident marked the U.S.’s second deadly mass shooting within a week. Last Tuesday, a gunman opened fire at multiple spas in the Atlanta area, killing eight people—six of whom were of Asian descent. The deadly attacks have revived calls for gun reform among Democratic leaders, including President Joe Biden.
POTUS addressed the tragedies from the White House on Tuesday, urging Congress to place a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as to close loopholes in gun background checks. Colorado officials say the Boulder suspect used an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle during Monday’s attack, which took place just days after a Boulder County District Court judged refused to enforce a ban on the possession and sales of assault weapons.
“I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common sense steps that will save the lives in the future and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act,” Biden said. “… This should not be a partisan issue. This is an American issue that will save lives, American lives, and we have to act.”