Up Next

Obama’s many, many speeches on gun violence

He’s tried to console the nation 15 times over seven years

President Barack Obama has had to address gun violence in America from the first year he’s been in office. He’s done it 15 times. What follows are excerpts from speeches he has made in each tragic instance.

Fort Hood, Texas – Nov. 5, 2009

Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire at Fort Hood military post in Texas, killing 12 people and wounding 31.

Obama: “It’s difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans in battles overseas. It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil.”

Tucson, Arizona – Jan. 8, 2011

While meeting constituents outside a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and 17 others were shot when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire. Six of the victims died, including John M. Roll, chief judge for the U.S. District Court for Arizona.

Obama: “What Americans do at times of tragedy is to come together and support each other.”

Aurora, Colorado, movie theater – July 20, 2012

During a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises at the Century Aurora 16 Multiplex Theater in Aurora, Colorado, James Holmes opened fire in the complex, killing 12 and wounding 70.

Obama: “Such violence, such evil is senseless. It’s beyond reason. But while we will never know fully what causes somebody to take the life of another, we do know what makes life worth living.”

Wisconsin Sikh temple – Aug. 6, 2012

Wade Michael Page fatally shot six people and wounded four at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. A known white supremacist, Page killed himself following the shooting.

Obama: “I think all of us recognize that these kinds of terrible, tragic events are happening with too much regularity for us not to do some soul-searching and to examine additional ways that we can reduce violence.”

Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school – Dec. 14, 2012

Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and six adults, including the school’s principal, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, before killing himself. Before 2016, it was the second-deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, behind Virginia Tech.

Obama: “This evening Michelle and I will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter, and we’ll tell them that we love them, and we’ll remind each other how deeply we love one another. But there are families in Connecticut who cannot do that tonight. And they need all of us right now.”

Navy Yard, Washington, D.C. – Sept. 16, 2013

Inside the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command at the Washington Navy Yard, Aaron Alexis killed 12 and wounded another eight people.

Obama: “It’s a shooting that targeted our military and civilian personnel. These are men and women who were going to work, doing their job, protecting all of us. They’re patriots, and they know the dangers of serving abroad, but today they faced the unimaginable violence that they wouldn’t have expected here at home.”

Fort Hood, Texas – April 2, 2014

Iraq veteran Spc. Ivan Lopez shot and killed three people at several locations on the Fort Hood military base in Texas. Sixteen other people were injured as well.

Obama: “Any shooting is troubling. Obviously, this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago. We know these families. We know their incredible service to our country and the sacrifices that they make.”

Kansas Jewish community center – April 14, 2014

Former KKK leader Frazier Glenn Miller shot and killed three people, including a 14-year-old boy and his 69-year-old grandfather, at the Overland Park Jewish Community Center in Kansas.

Obama: “Nobody should have to worry about their security when gathering with their fellow believers. No one should ever have to fear for their safety when they go to pray.”

Charleston, South Carolina, church – June 18, 2015

White supremacist Dylann Roof allegedly shot and killed nine people, including state Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney, at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.

Obama: “Any death of this sort is a tragedy. Any shooting involving multiple victims is a tragedy. There is something particularly heartbreaking about the death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace, in a place of worship.”

Chattanooga, Tennessee, military centers – July 16, 2015

Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez opened fire on two military installations, killing five people. He first did a drive-by shooting at a recruiting center, then went to a U.S. Navy Reserve center, where he was killed by police. Four Marines died there, and a Navy sailor died from his injuries two days later.

Obama: “My main message right now is obviously the deepest sympathies of the American people to the four Marines that have been killed. It is a heartbreaking circumstance for these individuals who have served our country with great valor to be killed in this fashion.”

Oregon community college – Oct. 1, 2015

Umpqua Community College student Chris Harper-Mercer killed nine people and injured another nine at the small Oregon school.

Obama: “But as I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America, next week or a couple of months from now.”

San Bernadino, California, office building – Dec. 2, 2015

Married couple Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik opened fire at an office party at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 and wounding 21 others.

Obama: “We see the prevalence of these kinds of mass shootings in this country, and I think so many Americans sometimes feel as if there’s nothing we can do about it. We are fortunate to have an extraordinary combination of law enforcement and intelligence and military that work every single day to keep us safe. But we can’t just leave it to our professionals to deal with the problem of these kinds of horrible killings. We all have a part to play.”

Speech on gun violence – Jan. 5, 2016

Obama: “I’m not on the ballot again. I’m not looking to score some points. I think we can disagree without impugning other people’s motives or without being disagreeable. We don’t need to be talking past one another. But we do have to feel a sense of urgency about it. In Dr. King’s words, we need to feel the ‘fierce urgency of now.’ Because people are dying. And the constant excuses for inaction no longer do, no longer suffice.”

Orlando, Florida, nightclub – June 12

Omar Saddiqui Mateen opened fire inside gay nightclub Pulse, killing 49 people and injuring another 50.

Obama: “For so many people here who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, the Pulse Nightclub has always been a safe haven, a place to sing and dance, and most importantly, to be who you truly are – including for so many people whose families are originally from Puerto Rico. Sunday morning, that sanctuary was violated in the worst way imaginable. So whatever the motivations of the killer, whatever influences led him down the path of violence and terror, whatever propaganda he was consuming from ISIL and al Qaeda, this was an act of terrorism but it was also an act of hate.”

Dallas protest march – July 7

Afghanistan veteran Micah Xavier Johnson opened fire on police officers during a protest march in downtown Dallas, killing five officers and injuring another seven.

Obama: “Scripture tells us that in our sufferings, there is glory, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Sometimes the truths of these words are hard to see. Right now, those words test us because the people of Dallas, people across the country are suffering.”

Martenzie is a senior researcher for The Undefeated. His favorite cinematic moment is when Django said "Y'all want to see somethin?"