America needs "soul searching" on gun violence: Obama

WASHINGTON Tue Aug 7, 2012 6:11am EDT

President Barack Obama answers a question about guns after he signs the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 while in the Oval Office of the White House August 6, 2012. REUTERS/Larry Downing

President Barack Obama answers a question about guns after he signs the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 while in the Oval Office of the White House August 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Monday that mass killings like the shooting rampage at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin were occurring with "too much regularity" and should prompt soul searching by all Americans, but he stopped short of calling for new gun-control laws.

"All of us are heart-broken by what happened," Obama told reporters at the White House a day after a gunman opened fire on Sikh worshippers preparing for religious services, killing six before he was shot dead by a police officer.

But when asked whether he would push for further gun-control measures in the wake of the shootings, Obama said only that he wanted to bring together leaders at all levels of American society to examine ways to curb gun violence.

That echoed his pledge last month in a speech in New Orleans to work broadly to "arrive at a consensus" on the contentious issue after a deadly Colorado shooting spree highlighted the problem in an election year.

But like his earlier comments, Obama offered no timetable or specifics for such discussions and did not call outright for tighter gun control laws.

Talk of reining in America's gun culture is considered politically risky for Obama, who is locked in a tight race against Republican challenger Mitt Romney for November election.

"All of us recognize that these kinds of terrible, tragic events are happening with too much regularity for us not to do some soul searching to examine additional ways that we can reduce violence," Obama said at an Oval Office ceremony to sign an unrelated bill.

But he added, "As I've already said, there are a lot of elements involved in it." The Democratic president has made a point of emphasizing his support for the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment, which covers the right to bear arms.

White House spokesman Jay Carney reiterated, however, that Obama remained in favor of renewing an assault weapons ban but pointed out "there has been reluctance by Congress" to pass it.

Obama said the FBI was still investigating the temple shooting, but if it turned out it was ethnically motivated, the American people would "immediately recoil."

"It would be very important for us to reaffirm once again that in this country, regardless of what we look like, where we come from, who we worship, we are all one people," he said.

Police identified the Wisconsin gunman as Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old U.S. Army veteran. A group that monitors extremists said he was a member of a racist skinhead band.

In a show of respect for the victims of the shooting in a Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek, Obama ordered flags at all U.S. government facilities at home and abroad to be flown at half staff until sunset on Friday.

But in his appearance before reporters on Monday, he did not answer a question on whether he planned to travel to Wisconsin.

(Reporting By Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Stacey Joyce and Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (35)
jscott418 wrote:
Can someone tell me what “Soul searching” means? Maybe the President is just afraid to take a side in gun control in an election year? I think its clear that any American cannot deny that our second amendment has allowed gun violence to escalate to a point where we need to ask ourselves as a Country if its worth it? When you have people with houses full of automatic rifles and ammo and can do so legally. One has to wonder if their motives are anything but sinister?
A powder keg of dynamite sitting in the desert Sun. This Country has a problem addressing our problems head on. We have not addressed our debt, our lack of jobs or our increasing violence with guns. We don’t need “soul searching” Mr. President. We need action.

Aug 07, 2012 6:43am EDT  --  Report as abuse
lucky12345 wrote:
Wait until after the election, everything will be fine if you just wait and make sure you elect me that is. After that I’ll do some real “soul-searching” and find my inner peace. Won’t that be great for the country!

On another topic – Save the Post Office, for what junk mail…

“Seniors love getting junk mail,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday. “It’s sometimes their only way of communicating or feeling like they’re part of the real world.”
Wow and he continues…!
“I’ll come home tonight here to my home in Washington and there’ll be some mail there. A lot of it is what some people refer to as junk mail, but for the people who are sending that mail, it’s very important,” Reid noted.
Three cheers for MORE government spending!!! Let’s expand our intelligence community so we all “feel safer” from our enemy, some guy wearing a bomb… Give me a break, we have the FBI and the CIA, we don’t need any more spooks among us.

Aug 07, 2012 6:56am EDT  --  Report as abuse
qmpash wrote:
No, Mr. President, we don’t need sould searching. What we need are effective gun control laws that outlaw assault weaponry and limit the sale and use of other firearms to legitimate hunters, collectors and persons who genuinely need a gun for protection. And, we should have the same parameters applied to firearms that we apply to the use of automobiles. Until you, the Congress of the United States and your political rivals such as Mitt Romney stop kissing the NRA’s butt, these kinds of outrages will continue. We don’t need your platitudes Mr. President; we need some action.

Aug 07, 2012 7:04am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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