WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama memorialized the victims of the Washington Navy Yard shooting as patriots but also individuals — one with a talent for fixing cars, another who coached softball and yet another who loved hockey and her cats.
It's not enough to cry over their deaths, Obama said.
"If we really want to honor these 12 men and women, if we really want to be a country where we can go to work and go to school and walk our streets free from senseless violence without so many lives being stolen by a bullet from a gun, then we're going to have to change," the president said.
Speaking Sunday at the city's Marine Barracks, just blocks away from where the shootings happened a week ago Monday, Obama called on Americans not to give up on trying to change gun laws that he argued are to blame for an epidemic of violence.
Gun control measures Obama had backed failed to pass Congress earlier this year and showed no new momentum in the days following the rampage at the Navy Yard, a military installation just blocks from the Capitol.
Obama said that when such tragedies strike, "it ought to be a shock to all of us, it ought to obsess us. It ought to lead to some sort of transformation."
But, he said, "nothing happens." Obama said he sometimes fears "there is a creeping resignation that these tragedies are just somehow the way it is, that this is somehow the new normal. We cannot accept this."
He acknowledged "the politics are difficult," a lesson he learned after failing to get expanded background checks for gun buyers through the Democratic-controlled Senate this spring, a measure he proposed after the shooting at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School killed 20 first-graders and six staff.