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Obama urges US to reflect on gun violence

June 18, 2015

US President Obama has condemned the shooting at a black church in South Carolina. While he urged Americans to reflect on the issue of gun violence, he also admitted that politics kept much from being done to stop it.

USA Schießerei in einer Kirche in South Carolina Trauer
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/D. Goldman

Obama raised the issue of gun control during a statement on the Charleston shootings on Thursday. The president urged Americans to reflect on gun control, saying such instances do not happen in "other advanced countries."

"Now is the time for mourning and for healing, but let's be clear - at some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries," Obama said.

'Threat to democracy'

The president noted that shootings like the one in Charleston on Wednesday night "pose a direct threat to democracy."

"It is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. But it'd be wrong for us not to acknowledge it," Obama said, referring indirectly to the strong gun-rights lobby that exists in the United States.

"At some point it is going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it and for us to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively," Obama added.

'Heinous crime'

Dylann Roof, the primary suspect behind the shooting at the historical black church in South Carolina that left nine people dead, was arrested during a traffic stop in neighboring state North Carolina.

Charleston's mayor called the 21-year-old suspect an "awful person" and a "terrible human being" after announcing Roof was in police custody "where he will always remain."

"This individual committed a tragic, heinous crime last night," Charleston police chief Gregory Mullen said.

Investigations are ongoing to determine the motive behind the gunman's attack.

(AP, AFP, dpa)