Obama On Orlando Shooting: We Have To Decide If This Is The Kind Of Country We Want To Be

"To actively do nothing is a decision as well."

Obama has given many speeches over the course of his presidency in the wake of mass shootings. He's made so many, in fact, that last June following the Charleston church shooting, he gave a speech about the frequency with which he gives them, and how it's coming time to put a stop to them once and for all.

"Once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun," he said, standing beside Vice President Joe Biden. "Now is the time for mourning and for healing, but let's be clear: at some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence doesn't happen in other advanced countries."

That point, he said on Sunday in response to an early morning attack that became the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, is now.


Obama has long been described as a gifted orator, a college poet who grew up to move nations, not chapbooks, with his craft. And although his speeches have occasionally been considered too intellectual, today there was no ambiguity in his phrasing or in his intent:

"Today marks the most deadly shooting in American history. The shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and a powerful assault rifle. This massacre is, therefore, a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school or in a house of worship or a movie theater or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that's the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well." 

San Bernardino. Roseburg. Charleston. Isla Vista. Sandy Hook. Each tragedy, gun control activists argue, represented an opportunity to prevent the next.

By the looks of it, Obama, with less than a year left before he leaves the Oval Office, has drawn a line in the sand after Orlando.

It's time, his words suggest, to decide.


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