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President Obama Reflects on Gun Violence in America

President Obama speaks onstage during the 2022 Sandy Hook Promise Benefit at The Ziegfeld Ballroom on December 06, 2022, in New York City.

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Excerpted from his speech given at our 10-Year Remembrance event, President Obama shares his thoughts about the tragedy and the transformation toward real change to protect our kids. Read his important words.

In 2022, there was not a single week without a mass shooting somewhere in America. We are unique among nations in tolerating the proliferation of guns on our streets and allowing civilians to routinely purchase high powered weapons of war. Nobody else does this.  

President Obama speaks onstage during the 2022 Sandy Hook Promise Benefit at The Ziegfeld Ballroom on December 06, 2022, in New York City.

Gun Violence is not inevitable 

Those who profit from this commerce know how to feed our fear and exploit our divisions and distract us with specious arguments that carnage and mayhem are somehow the price of our freedom.

And even though most of us know better. Even though, not just the majority of Americans, but the majority of responsible gun owners understand that something fundamental needs to change. Collectively, we still refuse to act on what the data and common sense tell us. So, we pretend that the sky-high rates of gun violence in our society are somehow inevitable.

We pretend that the proliferation of guns has nothing to do with the fact that on a per capita basis we have three times more murders than Canada, four times more than France, seven times more than Australia, 26 times more than Japan.

We pretend that the best we can do for the families of Sandy Hook, Uvalde, Parkland, Virginia Tech and so many other communities is to tinker around the edges and then offer rote recitations of our thoughts and our prayers when violence explodes once again.

So, I will admit it. I still get angry every time I read about the latest senseless shooting. Whether it is in a church or synagogue, in a grocery store, or on a college campus, or in a home or on a city street. I still feel anger, and I hope you do too.  

Real change is possible

The good news is that of late, I have sensed that slowly, steadily, the tide may be turning. That we are not just condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past and that real change is possible. Ten years ago, we would have all understood if the families of Sandy Hook Elementary had simply asked for their privacy and closed themselves off from the world.

The temptation must have been powerful, but instead they took unimaginable sorrow and channeled it into a righteous cause and in the face of cruel conspiracy theorizing and nasty partisan politics, and, worst of all, inertia and indifference and the TV cameras shifting to the latest distraction. They just kept on going and set an example of strength, resolve, and grace, which makes me very proud.