The Obama administration and Hillary Clinton sounded off on gun control hours after two journalists were killed by a disgruntled former colleague near Roanoke, Va.
At the daily briefing, press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters he “did not have the opportunity to speak to the president about the tragic shooting that occurred earlier today in Virginia.”
“Obviously, the thoughts and prayers of everybody here at the White House are with the families of those who were injured or killed in that terrible incident,” Earnest said. “The precise details of that incident continue to be under investigation. But as you’ve heard me say in the past, this is another example of gun violence that is becoming all too common in communities large and small all across the United States.”
“And while there is no piece of legislation that will end all violence in this country, there are some common-sense things that only Congress can do that we know would have a tangible impact in reducing gun violence in this country, and Congress could take those steps in a way that would not infringe on the constitutional rights of law- abiding Americans. And the president’s long advocated Congress taking those steps, and the president continues to believe that they should do so.”
On a campaign stop in Iowa, Clinton told reporters, “We have got to do something about gun violence in America, and I will take it on.”
“I believe we are smart enough, compassionate enough to balance Second Amendment rights” with gun control, she said, adding there are too many “needless, senseless deaths.”
“I feel this great heartache at what happened,” Clinton continued, saying the country can “not let yet another terrible instance go by” without addressing the “terrible killing that is stalking our country.”
“There is so much evidence that if guns were not so readily available… maybe we could prevent this kind of carnage.”
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who chaired Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, said in a statement that “as we reflect with heavy hearts on this tragedy, it is appropriate to begin to ask questions about how we can prevent these senseless events in the future.”
“Keeping guns out of the hands of people who would use them to harm our family, friends and loved ones is not a political issue; it is a matter of ensuring that more people can come home safely at the end of the day,” McAuliffe said. “We cannot rest until we have done whatever it takes to rid our society of preventable gun violence that results in tragedies like the one we are enduring today.”
Earnest said the lack of passing more gun control remains President Obama’s “greatest frustration” in office.
“We could do that in a way that wouldn’t undermine the basic constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans. I think, you know, there’s little argument about that, I think,” the press secretary said.
“There continues to, however, be, a very vocal portion of the U.S. population — I think it’s a minority and I think the polls bear that out — however, that has a lot of sway in Congress when it comes to issues related to guns. And the president has found that disappointing and frustrating, principally because he believes it’s bad public policy. And for us to not take common-sense steps to address what I think we all acknowledge what I think we all acknowledge is a pretty significant problem,” Earnest continued.
“But I think the president has also been disappointed that our political system hasn’t responded in the way that he would like. There’s clear — there are clear majorities in both the Democratic and Republican parties, according to many polls, for these policies. There are even some polls that indicate that there are clear majorities of gun owners that support some of these common-sense steps. But yet, we haven’t seen Congress take this action.”