Obama calls for ‘transformation’ of gun laws

During Navy Yard memorial, Obama says nation has been torn apart by ‘epidemic of gun violence’

Obama said the nation is suffering from an 'epidemic of gun violence' at the Navy Yard shooting memorial service.

President Barack Obama on Sunday voiced his frustration with the nation's continuing pattern of gun violence at a memorial service for the 12 victims of last week's Navy Yard shooting.

"The senseless violence of the Navy Yard shootings echoes other shootings," he said in front of 4,000 guests at the Marine barracks in Washington, D.C., adding that the shooting "ought to lead to some sort of transformation" on gun violence and gun control.

"Once more our hearts are broken. Once more we ask why," Obama said. "We can't accept this."

The Navy Yard shooting is the latest massacre to occur during Obama's time in office -- a point he did not shy away from.

"As president, I have now grieved with five American communities ripped apart by mass violence: Fort Hood, Tucson, Aurora, Sandy Hook and now the Washington Navy Yard," he said.

Obama said it was clear from last week's shooting that there was a need to secure the nation's military facilities -- something he also noted after the Fort Hood shooting -- and that he had ordered a full review "up the chain" to address the issue.

Earlier Sunday, on NBC's Meet the Press, Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, argued that the shooting was a result not of weak gun control laws but of poor security at the Navy Yards. He said the military facility was "largely left unprotected."

"There weren't enough good guys with guns," LaPierre told NBC's David Gregory. "When the good guys with guns got there, it stopped."

The gunman in the Navy Yard shooting, Aaron Alexis, was a former Navy reservist and a Defense Department contractor. His father previously told detectives in Seattle that Alexis had challenges with anger management as a result of post-traumatic stress from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Law-enforcement officials have said Alexis suffered from a variety of mental issues, including paranoia.

Obama said that although it is clear change to the nation's gun laws is needed, it will not come from Washington. Politicians have been unwilling or unable to change the nation's gun laws despite the "epidemic of gun violence" in the country, he said.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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