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Obama: Pandemic Cannot Be the 'Only Thing' That 'Slows Mass Shootings'

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Former President Barack Obama is weighing in on the calls for more action on guns following the second fatal mass shooting in the U.S. in a week.

“We should be able to go to school, or go out with our friends, or worship together without mentally planning our escape if someone shows up with a gun,” Obama wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “We should be able to live our lives without wondering if the next trip outside our home could be our last.”

“We should. But in America, we can’t.”

The former president declared that it is “long past time” for people “with power” to “fight this epidemic of gun violence to do so.”

“It will take time to root out the disaffection, racism and misogyny that fuels so many of these senseless acts of violence,” he added.

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Obama continued in calling for action on creating tougher gun laws, “But we can make it harder for those with hate in their hearts to buy weapons of war. We can overcome opposition by cowardly politicians and the pressure of a gun lobby that opposes any limit on the ability of anyone to assemble an arsenal. We can, and we must.”

“A once-in-a-century pandemic cannot be the only thing that slows mass shootings in this country. We shouldn’t have to choose between one type of tragedy and another. It’s time for leaders everywhere to listen to the American people when they say enough is enough — because this is a normal we can no longer afford.”

See Obama’s statement below:

Obama’s statement comes after 10 people were killed at a Colorado grocery store on Monday afternoon, including a police officer. The 21-year-old suspect was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder.

President Joe Biden delivered remarks on Tuesday where he urged Congress to ban assault weapons.

“We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again,” Biden said during his remarks at the White House. “I got that done when I was a senator. … We should do it again.”

He also called for the Senate to pass two Democratic-backed gun control bills passed by the House of Representatives.

“This is not and should not be a partisan issue, this is an American issue. It will save lives, American lives, and we have to act,” the president said.

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The coronavirus pandemic may have slowed the number of mass shootings in public spaces, but in 2020, mass shootings soared in the U.S.

According to USA Today, “Analysis of Gun Violence Archive statistics from 2020 shows that mass shootings surged by 47% as many states reported unprecedented increases in weapons-related incidents.” There were 611 reported mass shootings in the U.S. in 2020, compared to 417 mass shootings in 2019.

As The New York Times reports, “The early research suggests that widespread unemployment, financial stress, a rise in drug and alcohol addiction, and a lack of access to community resources caused by the pandemic contributed to the increase in shootings in 2020.”

The Times also notes, “The news media’s focus on the coronavirus and the lack of high-profile mass shootings may have removed another contributing factor: the tendency of gunmen to mimic other killers who gain notoriety,” citing Jillian Peterson, an associate professor of criminal justice at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn.

Additionally, background checks for guns purchased increased last year by 40% compared to 2019.

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