*For the reported 14th time during his presidency, Barack Obama this morning expressed sorrow following a mass shooting in the United States. This time, however, some of the dead were personal friends.
The president addressed the horrific South Carolina church shooting in emotional remarks that invoked America’s racial history and the heated politics over gun control.
“I don’t need to be constrained about the emotions tragedies like this raise,” the president said. “I’ve had to make comments like this too many times. Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times.”
“To say our thoughts and prayers are with them and their community doesn’t say enough to convey the heartache and the sadness and the anger that we feel,” he continued.
“There’s something particularly heartbreaking about a death happening at a place at which we seek solace, and we seek peace.”
The president said he and first lady Michelle Obama have relationships with many of the church’s parishioners — including its slain pastor Rev. Clementa Pickney.
“The fact that this took place in a black church also raises questions about a dark part of our history,” the president said. He went on to invoke Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s eulogy for four little girls who died in a church firebombing in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, saying, “They lived meaningful lives and they died nobly.'”
President Obama then pivoted to the larger issue of gun violence, saying, “Now is the time for mourning and healing, but let’s be clear: At some point as a country, we have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It is in our power to do something about it… I say this knowing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those opportunities.”
Watch Obama’s entire remarks below: