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President Barack Obama highlighted that gun violence had killed far more Americans than terrorism since 9/11 on Thursday and said it was “distressing” how the country lacked “common-sense” laws to tackle the problem.
His comments came as the U.S. dealt with yet another shooting massacre — this time at a theater in Lafayette, Louisiana.
In an interview with the BBC before 11 people were randomly shot while watching "Trainwreck," Obama spoke about the unfinished business of his terms in office, saying race relations remained “a fault line in American life” despite recent progress.
However, he signaled that he would continue to work on gun laws during his remaining time in the White House.
“That is an area where …I feel that I've been most frustrated and most stymied,” he said. “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.”
He added: “If you look at the number of Americans killed since 9/11 by terrorism, it's less than 100. If you look at the number been killed by gun violence, it's in the tens of thousands. And for us not to be able to resolve that issue has been something that is distressing. But it is not something that I intend to stop working on in the remaining 18 months.”
Obama sought comprehensive gun reform in 2013 following the Sandy Hook school shooting, but his proposals were thwarted by opposition in Congress and from lobby groups including the National Rifle Association.
On race relations, Obama said he was encouraged by America’s growing diversity. “It’s becoming more tolerant as a consequence,” he said. “There’s more interactions between groups. There are going be tensions that arise. But if you look at my daughters' generation, they have an attitude about race that's entirely different than even my generation.”
He said the issue had been “a running thread” and a “fault line in American life and American politics since its founding.”
“Recent concerns around policing and mass incarcerations are legitimate and deserve intense attention,” he added. “And I feel that we are moving the ball forward on those issues.”