In wake of Umpqua shooting, Obama shows frustration over lack of gun reform

President Obama addressed the nation after a gunman killed nine people at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, urging that 'thoughts and prayers are not enough.'

Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard/AP
Amanda Calvert, a former student at Umpqua Community College, helps to spell the initials of the school with candles during a vigil at Stewart Park in Roseburg, Ore., after a fatal shooting at the school Thursday.

Thursday, President Obama stood at a White House podium to speak about the most recent killings in a string of mass shootings that have occurred during his presidency and before.

With wounded victims still recovering in hospitals and the Umpqua Community College community in Roseburg, Ore., still reeling from the shock of the attack, Mr. Obama addressed the nation, condemning the massacre and offering condolences and prayers to the families and community of the victims. The president said that “thoughts and prayers are not enough” and urged Americans to push Congress to pass stricter gun laws.

“We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months,” Obama said in his speech, “Somehow this has become routine. This reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine.”

The attack is one of 294 mass shootings that have occurred in 2015, according to the crowdsourced Mass Shooting Tracker database. With nine dead and seven wounded, the attack is the most deadly shooting at an institution of higher education since the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre and the deadliest shooting this year. The gunman reportedly walked onto the Oregon college campus and opened fire in a classroom filled with students.

Stacy Boylan, the father of an 18-year-old wounded victim of the attack, had the events of the attack described to him by his daughter. He recounted the events for Reuters:

After the professor of the class had been shot point blank, the gunman “was able to stand there and start asking people one by one what their religion was. ‘Are you Christian?’ he would ask them… ‘If you’re Christian, stand up. Good. Because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second,’ and he shot and killed them. And he kept going down the line doing this to people.”

The attacker was later killed in a gunfire exchange with two police officers in Snyder Hall on the Umpqua campus.

Douglas Country Sheriff John Hanlin said at a news conference that the “investigation into the shooter and into his motivations is ongoing.”

The sheriff refused to name the gunman, stating, “I will not give him the credit he probably sought via his horrific and cowardly act.”

The recurrence of mass shootings across the United States in recent years have prompted some observers to question whether media coverage may be providing incentive or inspiration for copycat shootings.

“May God bless the memories of those who were killed today. May He bring comfort to their families, and courage to the injured as they fight their way back. And may He give use the strength to come together and find the courage to change,” Obama said in the conclusion of his speech. 

This report contains material from Reuters and the Associated Press.

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