One of President Barack Obama’s greatest frustrations is his inability to pass stricter gun laws, he told the BBC Thursday just hours before a mass shooting in a Louisiana theater.
“If you ask me where is the one area where I feel that I have been most frustrated and most stymied, it is the fact that the United States of America is the one advanced nation on earth in which we do not have sufficient, common sense, gun safety laws,” Obama said. “Even in the face of repeated mass killings.”
The comments are especially notable because later on Thursday, a gunman stood up in a Lafayette, Louisiana, movie theater during a showing of the new comedy “Trainwreck” and began firing into the crowd. He killed two people, injured nine and then killed himself, according to police.
Police identified the shooter Friday as John Russell Houser, a 59-year-old drifter from Alabama.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday morning that Obama had been briefed on the shooting aboard Air Force One by his homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco.
“The President directed his team to keep him updated on the investigation and on the status of those injured in the shooting,” Earnest said. “The thoughts and prayers of everyone at the White House, including the President and First Lady, are with the community of Lafayette, Louisiana, especially the families of those who were killed.”
Mass shootings and gun violence have punctuated Obama’s presidency from the shooting of then-Rep. Gabby Giffords in 2011 to the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado in 2012.
One of the president’s strongest pleas for gun control came in December 2012, after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School which killed 20 schoolchildren.
But he told the BBC Thursday that he was not stopping work on the issue.
“For us not to be able to resolve that issue has been something that is distressing, but it is not something I intend to stop working on in the last 18 months,” he said.