Obama consoles grieving families amid two more college shootings

ROSEBURG (Oregon) • In a ritual that has become both familiar and frustrating to him, President Barack Obama travelled to Oregon to console families of the victims of a community college shooting.

Mr Obama, who tried but failed to tighten firearms laws after previous mass shootings, arrived in a community where support for gun rights remains strong despite the deaths of 10 people, including the gunman, in the deadliest massacre on US soil in two years. Supporters and protesters lined the streets as his motorcade drove by, armed with signs like "Not giving up our rights", "Please leave us in peace" and "Gun-free zones are for sitting ducks".

Mr Obama met privately for about an hour with the families at a local high school. Speaking to reporters later, he said he had "strong feelings" about gun control. The country needed to come together to prevent such shootings from happening in the future, he added.

But he did not show the same anger he had previously, saying the day was about the grieving families.

"Obviously, in moments like these, words aren't going to bring their loved ones back," he said.

"When you talk to these families, you're reminded that this could be happening to your child, or your mum, or your dad, or your relative, or your friend. And so we're going to have to come together as a country to see how we can prevent these issues from taking place."

His comments came as two more college shootings occurred - one at Northern Arizona University and another at Texas Southern University that together left two dead and four wounded.

The government is reconsidering some administrative actions to tighten control over gun sales, including one that would define anyone who sells many guns at gun shows or online as a commercial seller, requiring that they perform background checks on potential buyers before completing any transaction. The measure would at least partly close what is widely known as the "gun show loophole".

REUTERS, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 11, 2015, with the headline 'Obama consoles grieving families amid two more college shootings'. Print Edition | Subscribe