The US president says Washington’s gun policies have made it the only developed nation with the highest rate of gun violence in the world.
“There is nothing normal about our children dying in our streets from stray bullets. No other advanced nation endures this kind of violence. None. Here in America the murder rate is three times of what it is in other developed nations. The murder rate with guns is ten times of what it is in other developed nations.”
Barack Obama made the remarks in Washington DC’s Marine Barracks during a memorial service for the victims of a mass shooting at city’s Navy Yard base.
Last Monday, 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, a former US Navy reservist, went on a shooting rampage at the massive military compound killing a dozen people. The suspect was later killed in an engagement with police forces.
“There is nothing inevitable about it. It comes about because of the decisions we make or we fail to make and it falls upon us to make it different,” the US president said about the country's gun culture, gun laws and their consequences.
“For these families have endured a shattering tragedy. It ought to be a shock to us all as a nation and as a people. It ought to obsess us. It ought to lead to some sort of transformation. That's what happened in other countries when they experienced similar tragedies. In the United Kingdom, in Australia, when just a single mass shooting occurred in those countries; they understood that there was nothing ordinary about this kind of carnage. They endured great heartbreak, but they also mobilized and they changed, and mass shootings became a great rarity,” Obama added.
The US has been discussing how to control gun violence after 20-year-old Adam Lanza opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 26 people including 20 school children in December 2012.
There have been at least 17 mass shootings in the United States since the incident at Sandy Hook School.
Gun control laws proposed by the Obama administration after the Newtown tragedy have been blocked in Congress, largely due to opposition by the Republicans.
According to a new study by American doctors, the country has 88 guns per 100 people and 10 gun-related deaths per 100,000 people - more than any of the other 27 developed nations they studied.