WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the wake of high-profile gun violence in the nation’s capital and Chicago, President Barack Obama told members of the Congressional Black Caucus and their dinner guests that he will renew his effort to persuade Congress to pass legislation toughening the nation’s gun laws.
Speaking at the CBC Foundation Dinner Saturday night, Obama said: “We can’t rest until all of our children can go to school or walk down the street free from the fear that they will be struck down by a stray bullet. Just two days ago, in my hometown of Chicago, 13 people were shot during a pickup basketball game, including a three-year-old girl. Tomorrow night I’ll be meeting and mourning with families in this city who now know the same unspeakable grief of families in Newtown, and Aurora, and Tucson, and Chicago, and New Orleans, and all across the country – people whose loved ones were torn from them without headlines sometimes, or public outcry. But it’s happening every single day.”
President Obama, in his role as ‘comforter-in-chief,’ addressed 4,000 people mourners Sunday night at the Marine Corps Barracks, several few blocks from the Navy Yard where Aaron Alexis, 34, a former Navy reservist with a history of mental problems, killed 12 people on Sept. 16 in Building 197 before being killed himself.
“Part of what wears on is the sense that this has happened before,” President Obama said. “What wears on us, what troubles us so deeply, as we gather here today is this senseless violence that took place in the Navy Yard echoes other recent tragedies.”
Exasperated by inaction in Congress, the president said: “By now, it should be clear that the change we need will not come from Washington, even when tragedy strikes Washington. Change will come the only way it ever has come, and that’s from the American people.”
Obama acknowledges that he faces an uphill battle getting gun legislation enacted.
Despite strong support from President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and relatives of the 20 first-graders and six educators killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. last December, legislation requiring expanded background checks failed to clear the Senate earlier this year.
“We fought a good fight earlier this year, but we came up short,” Obama said at the CBC dinner. “And that means we’ve got to get back up and go back at it. Because as long as there are those who fight to make it as easy as possible for dangerous people to get their hands on a gun, then we’ve got to work as hard as possible for the sake of our children. We’ve got to be ones who are willing to do more work to make it harder.”
A study of Black homicides by the Violence Policy Center (VPC), a national non-profit educational organization that conducts research and public education on violence in America, found the Black homicide rate is more than six times that of Whites.
Using FBI figures, the center said there were 6,469 Black homicide victims in 2010. The homicide rate among Black victims in the United States was 16.32 per 100,000, compared to a rate of 2.66 per 100,000 for Whites. About 14% of the Black victims were female.