Acknowledging that the motive of the shooter was still unknown, President Obama lashed out at the “easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them” in the wake of Friday’s shooting at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs.
An abortion-rights group, meanwhile, was quick to blame undercover videos discussing brokering of baby parts that were released throughout the year by the Center for Medical Progress.
Robert Lewis Dear, 57, is scheduled to appear in court Monday. He killed one police officer, University of Colorado Officer Garrett Swasey, in the shootout, and two civilians who had not been identified as of Saturday afternoon. The timeline on where the victims were shot is unclear, as witnesses reported shooting in the parking lot of the shopping center where the clinic was located. Five officers and four civilians were wounded, though not one of the 15 Planned Parenthood employees at the location was harmed, according to CNN.
Obama stressed that “we don’t yet know what this particular gunman’s so-called motive was for shooting twelve people, or for terrorizing an entire community, when he opened fire with an assault weapon and took hostages” at the Planned Parenthood.
“What we do know is that he killed a cop in the line of duty, along with two of the citizens that police officer was trying to protect. We know that law enforcement saved lives, as so many of them do every day, all across America. And we know that more Americans and their families had fear forced upon them,” the president said in a statement today.
“This is not normal. We can’t let it become normal. If we truly care about this — if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience — then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them. Period. Enough is enough,” Obama continued.
“May God bless Officer Garrett Swasey and the Americans he tried to save — and may He grant the rest of us the courage to do the same thing.”
Both of Colorado’s senators condemned the violence while taking care not to assign motive to the crime.
“Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, Planned Parenthood, the Colorado Springs Police Department, and the City of Colorado Springs,” Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) said Friday. “We are grateful to the first responders who kept the situation from becoming worse and saved lives. Our office is in touch with local officials and has offered any assistance we can provide the community.”
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) said the “senseless act of violence is truly tragic and our hearts are with the victims and their families during this difficult time.”
“The Colorado Springs Police Department, Colorado Springs Fire Department, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, State Patrol, and federal law enforcement agencies bravely responded to the initial call for help, and quickly worked to contain and stabilize the situation,” Gardner said. “Our first responders displayed tremendous bravery, and I am grateful for their service and ongoing sacrifice to keep our local community safe.”
The National Abortion Federation charged in a statement just hours after the tragedy unfolded that “although anti-abortion groups may condemn this type of violence when it happens, the way that they target and demonize providers contributes to a culture where some feel it is justifiable to murder doctors simply because they provide women with the abortion care they need.”
“Since a series of highly-edited, misleading anti-abortion videos was released in July, we have seen an unprecedented increase in hate speech and threats against abortion providers. We have been quite worried that this increase in threats would lead to a violent attack like we saw today,” NAF president and CEO Vicki Saporta said.
“This clinic is part of the Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains affiliate, which was featured in one of the highly-edited smear videos released this summer. Since that video, the affiliate has seen an increase in protesters and death threats against one of their doctors.”
Bryan Kemper, youth outreach director for Priests for Life, said he was “sickened by the violence” of the Colorado Springs shooting “just as I am sickened by the violence there every day” at Planned Parenthood.
“Although we do not know the details behind the gun violence at Planned Parenthood in Colorado, it is important to say that we are against all violence against our fellow human persons,” Kemper said. “From the abortionist, the workers, the patients, the children scheduled to die or anyone at that Planned Parenthood, all of their lives are precious and worth saving. All of them are loved by God and deserve our prayers.”