Obama: people have to change to honor shooting victims’ families

President Barack Obama during a meeting with King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, June 1, 2015. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

President Barack Obama spoke Friday in San Francisco about the mass shooting at the downtown Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, urging a shift in how American’s think about such events.

“We have to move public opinion; we have to have a sense of urgency,” he said at the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Ultimately, Congress will follow the people.

Nine people who were attending Bible study at the church Wednesday night were killed when a gunman opened fire after attending the meeting for nearly an hour. Dylann Storm Roof, 21, of Eastover has been charged with their deaths.

Obama addressed gun control and said there needed to be an open discussion without demonizing lawful gun owners.

“At some point as a country, we need to reconcile with what happened,” Obama said. “We have to have a conversation about it and fix it.”

He said the best way to honor mass shooting victims’ families was for an overall change in people.

“You don’t see murder on this scale with this kind of frequency in any other advanced country,” Obama said. “I refuse to act as if this is the new normal or that it’s sufficient to just grieve.”

Reach Melissa Boughton at 937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughton.