Obama says church shooting shows need for reckoning on guns

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, pauses while speaking in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 18, 2015, on the church shooting in Charleston, S.C., prior to his departure to Los Angeles.

WASHINGTON — Giving voice to intense heartache, anger and sadness, President Barack Obama said Thursday the South Carolina church shooting that left nine people dead shows the need for a national reckoning on gun violence in America.

The president said that all too often, he has been called to the microphone to mourn the deaths of innocents killed by those “who had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.”

“At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries,” Obama said. “It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. It is in our power to do something about it.”

Obama said that he and Vice President Joe Biden both spoke with Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley to express condolences. And the president said he and first lady Michelle Obama knew several parishioners at Emanuel AME church, including the church’s pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, who was among those killed.

Obama spoke from the White House before departing on a weekend fundraising trip to California. Biden joined Obama in the briefing room for the statement.