Obama Laments Congressional Inaction on 'Once a Week' Shootings

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President Barack Obama speaks in Jacksonville, Florida, on Feb. 26, 2016.

Photographer: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
  • Obama speaks in Jacksonville after call with Kansas town mayor
  • Gunman shot 15 people, killing three, at lawnmower factory

A mass shooting on Thursday at a Hesston, Kansas, factory was overshadowed by coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign, even at the largest news organization in the region, and President Barack Obama isn’t OK with that.

“Once a week, we have these shootings and it doesn’t dominate the news,” Obama said Friday, without singling out the Kansas City Star’s website, which was playing the shooting story below articles on state government and presidential candidate Donald Trump. “That’s got to change.”

Thursday’s shooting of 15 people, three fatally, and another shooting on Sunday in Kalamazoo, Michigan, that killed six are the latest examples of the mass shooting phenomenon Obama has struggled to curb despite years of pleas to Congress for action. The president spoke Friday in Jacksonville, Florida, on a visit to a battery factory.

“This becomes routine, these sorts of mass shootings that are taking place,” Obama said. “We cannot become numb to this.”

Obama in January left an empty seat in the House of Representatives gallery for his State of the Union address to represent victims of gun violence, and announced executive actions to require more background checks before purchases, hoping to keep guns away from people who might be dangerous.

He’s failed to convince Congress to act on stronger gun control laws, though, and said Friday that the American people should elect different representatives. “This Congress may not have any appetite to do something about it, but we need one that does,” Obama said.

Thursday’s shooting occurred at an Excel Industries factory, about 35 miles (56 km) north of Wichita, that makes lawnmower parts, according to the Associated Press. Obama called Hesston Mayor David Kauffman from Air Force One en route to Jacksonville to express his condolences.

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