Speed Reads

Umpqua Community College shooting

Obama asked for a comparison of U.S. gun versus terrorism deaths. The internet delivered.

On Thursday, as he has at least a dozen times before, a visibly frustrated President Obama addressed another mass shooting in the U.S., this one the murder of at least nine people at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. "As I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough," Obama said. "This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction."

The reaction to the string of high-profile mass murders — Aurora, Colorado; Sandy Hook, Connecticut; Fort Hood, Texas; Washington Navy Yard; Charleston, South Carolina — has become routine and predictable, Obama said. "Also routine is that somebody, somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue. Well, this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic." He continued:

I would ask news organizations — because I won't put these facts forward — have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who've been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who've been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports. This won't be information coming from me; it will be coming from you. We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. [Obama]

Obama asked, some news organizations delivered:


At The Washington Post, Phillip Bump went on to note that lots of other things kill more people in the U.S. each year than both guns and terrorism, including auto fatalities (32,719 deaths in 2013) and cancer (more than 550,000 deaths so far this year). "So Obama's factual point is accurate," Bump said. "His political one — assuming we're understanding it correctly — is iffier." Obama probably disagrees:

You can watch the president deliver his entire statement below. The challenge to news organizations starts at the 6:30 mark. Peter Weber