Obama Calls for Continued Gun-Control Push, Acknowledges ‘The Politics Are Difficult’

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The Obamas at Sunday's memorial service.Photo: Alex Wong/2013 Getty Images

In the immediate aftermath of last week's Navy Yard shooting, President Obama did not overtly mention gun control, but over the weekend he called on Americans to keep pushing the issue. "We fought a good fight earlier this year, but we came up short and that means we’ve gotta get back up and go back at it, " Obama told the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation at its annual dinner on Saturday. The next day, speaking at a memorial service for the twelve victims of the D.C. shooting, Obama acknowledged "the politics are difficult," but said improving our gun laws "ought to obsess us." "Sometimes I fear there is a creeping resignation that these tragedies are just somehow the way it is, that this is somehow the new normal," he said. "We cannot accept this."

"Our tears are not enough. Our words and our prayers are not enough," Obama continued. "If we really want to honor these twelve men and women, if we really want to be a country where we can go to work, go to school and walk our streets free from senseless violence without so many lives being stolen with a bullet from a gun, then we’re going to have to change."

Of course, Congress already made it abundantly clear last week that they don't intend to take up the issue again. Sen. Joe Manchin, who pushed the unsuccessful background-checks bill, reiterated his position on Face the Nation, saying he won't push the bill "unless there's a movement." He explained, "I’m not gonna go out there and just beat the drum for the sake of beating the drum." And in news that will shock no one, this is how Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president, summed up the Navy Yard shooting on Meet the Press: "There weren't enough good guys with guns. When the good guys with guns got there, it stopped."

While the president offered a vague assurance that the nation will pass stricter gun laws someday "because it’s the change we need," he admitted that the change won't come from members of Congress. "By now it’s clear that the change we need will not come from Washington, even when the tragedy strikes Washington,” Obama said. "Change will come the only way it’s ever come, and that is from the American people."