Unending school shooting: Obama says America should be ashamed

Washington, June 14 (IANS) As America witnessed its 74th school shooting this week since the "massacre of innocents" at an elementary school 18 months ago, President Barack Obama said he was ashamed that America can't put a stop to them.

"We should be ashamed of that," Obama said, hours after a 14-year-old was shot at an Oregon high school Tuesday.

"There's no place else like this," he said lamenting barring a fundamental shift in public opinion, "it will not change."

"My biggest frustration so far is the fact that this society has not been willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who can do just unbelievable damage," Obama said.

No developed nation on earth would put up with mass shootings that happen now once a week and disappear from the news within a day - no nation except America, Obama said as he took questions from young Americans through the social media site Tumblr.

There have been 74 school shootings since the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were shot to death, according to a group called Everytown for Gun Safety.

According to a CNN analysis of the statistic provided by the umbrella group started by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 15 of the incidents Everytown included were situations similar to the violence in Newtown or Oregon.

The US has witnessed about one such shooting -- a minor or adult actively shooting inside or near a school - every five weeks, CNN concluded calling "a startling figure in its own right."

Some of the other incidents on Everytown's list included personal arguments, accidents and alleged gang activities and drug deals.

Even as he admitted that gun control is all but a lost cause for his presidency, Obama said he respects gun rights and the American tradition embodied by the Second Amendment.

But he blamed the National Rifle Association and well-financed gun manufacturers for making lawmakers "feel the heat" if they back tighter gun control.

"Most members of Congress - and to some degree this is bipartisan - are terrified of the NRA," Obama said.

He said the majority of Americans support gun control steps but don't feel passionately enough about it to punish lawmakers who disagree. "Until that happens, sadly, not that much is going to change."

After failing to get Congress to vote on gun control, Obama issued 23 executive orders related to gun violence in 2013 to do whatever was possible without Congressional support.

The powerful gun lobby has prevented passage of gun control laws even as polls have found that over half of Americans think US gun laws ought to be stricter, while over 80 percent support background checks on all gun buyers.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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