President Obama on Thursday shared the issue that has “most frustrated” him during his time in office.
“If you ask me where has been the one area where I feel that I’ve been most frustrated and most stymied, it is the fact that the United States of America is the one advanced nation on earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense gun safety laws – even in the face of repeated mass killings,” Obama told the BBC in an interview.
The president made similar comments in the wake of a deadly shooting massacre on June 17 at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, where a white gunman killed nine parishioners – including the church’s pastor, longtime state Sen. Sen. Clementa Pinckney – in what authorities have called a racially motivated attack.
Speaking a day after the tragedy, Obama said the U.S. must “reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it.”
Despite a number of deadly mass shootings in the U.S. in recent years – including the killing of 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012 – gun control legislation has languished in Congress. In April 2013, the Senate rejected a bipartisan bill to strengthen background checks for would-be gun buyers.Obama also decried the lack of stronger gun control measures during an appearance on comedian Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast last month. “There are actions that could be taken to make events like this less likely. And one of those actions we could take would be to enhance some basic, common-sense gun safety laws.”
The president noted in his interview with the BBC that less than 100 Americans have been killed in terror-related attacks since Sept. 11, 2001, while tens of thousands have lost their lives to gun violence.
“And for us not to be able to resolve that issue has been something that is distressing,” Obama said, “but it is not something that I intended to stop working on in the next 18 months.”