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President Barack Obama called for stricter firearms laws as after a mass shooting in California that left at least 14 people dead, calling the spate of gun violence in the U.S. “unparalleled” to other countries.
Obama spoke with CBS News on Wednesday as the shooting at a center that serves the developmentally disabled in San Bernardino was still unfolding, and cautioned that much was still unknown.
"It does appear that there are going to be some casualties, and obviously our hearts go out to the victims and the families," Obama said.
"The one thing we do know is that we have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world,” Obama said. "And there are some steps that we could take — not to eliminate every one of these mass shootings — but to improve the odds that they don't happen as frequently."
The shooting at the Inland Regional Center, which serves some 30,000 clients with disabilities, is the second mass shooting in the U.S. in a week. On Friday, a gunman opened fire at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood facility and killed three people, including a police officer, during an hours-long siege.
Obama told CBS that the country could enact “common sense gun laws” and stronger background checks to reduce the frequency of mass shootings in America.
He also said that Americans on a no-fly list are still legally able to buy guns. "That's a law that needs to be changed."
House Speaker Paul Ryan held a moment of silence for the victims of the shooting while at the annual Capitol Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. "Please keep the victims and their families in your prayers right now," Ryan said.
Two suspects later died in a shootout with police after officers chased an SUV sought after the killings, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said. They were armed with assault-style files and handguns and appeared to have been well-prepared, he said.
A third person was detained, but it is unclear if that person is connected to the shootings, Burguan said.
"We don't yet know what the motives of the shooters are, but what we do know is that there are steps that we can take to make Americans safer, and that we should come together in a bipartisan basis at every level of government to make these rare as opposed to normal.
"We should never think that this is something that just happens in the ordinary course of events, because it doesn't happen with the same frequency in other countries,” Obama said.