Here’s the entirety of the only passage in President Obama’s speech in Tucson after the Gabrielle Giffords shooting in 2011 that even implied advocacy for governmental action against gun violence:
“We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of such violence in the future.”
Here’s the analogous passage from his speech in Colorado after the Aurora shootings in July:
“I hope that over the next several days, next several weeks, and next several months, we all reflect on how we can do something about some of the senseless violence that ends up marring this country, but also reflect on all the wonderful people who make this the greatest country on Earth.”
And here’s the analogous passage from his speech tonight in Newtown:
“This is our first task, caring for our children. Our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged. And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we’re meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm? Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know they are loved and teaching them to love in return? Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live our their lives in happiness and with purpose? I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer’s no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.
“Since I’ve been president, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by mass shootings. Fourth time we’ve hugged survivors. Fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims. In between there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children in small towns and big cities all across America. Victims who much of the time, their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this. If there’s even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that’s visited Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that, then surely we have an obligation to try.
“In the coming weeks, I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”
Should be an interesting next few weeks.