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President Barack Obama on Friday called for a national discussion on gun regulations in the wake of a deadly attack at a historic black church in Charleston, saying "it is not good enough simply to show sympathy."
"I refuse to act as if this is the new normal or to pretend that it's simply sufficient to grieve, and that any mention of us doing something to stop it is somehow politicizing the problem," Obama said at a speech before the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco.
Nine people were killed when a white gunman opened fire during a Bible study session at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church at around 9 p.m. Wednesday. The gunman, Dylann Roof, has confessed, sources said, and is charged with nine counts of murder. Police have called the attack a hate crime.
Obama said more than 11,000 Americans were killed by gun violence in 2013. He criticized Congress for failing to pass what he called “common-sense gun safety reforms” after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.
"We don’t know it would have prevented what happened in Charleston — no reform can guarantee the elimination of violence — but we might still have some more Americans with us," Obama said. "We should be strong enough to acknowledge this. At the very least we should be able to talk about this issue as citizens," he said.
"At some point as a country we have to reckon with what happens," Obama said. "It is not good enough simply to show sympathy."
Obama said his comments Thursday that politics made it unlikely to move forward with gun control were misconstrued by some as resignation. "I am not resigned. I have faith we will eventually do the right thing," Obama said.