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Obama conveys ‘heartache and sadness’ for Charleston; asks nation to address gun violence

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.
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. AP

When President Barack Obama addressed the nation Thursday following the arrest of the Charleston shooting suspect, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, he asked that the tragedy might shift to how the country thinks about gun violence.

“I’ve had to make statements like this too many times,” he said.

He said that while his remarks must remain constrained around the circumstances of the case, he could speak freely on other matters.

“Let’s be clear, at some point we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of violence doesn’t happen in other advanced countries,” Obama said.

He also addressed the nature of hate crimes, and quoted Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech following the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four girls.

“Mother Emanuel Church and its congregation have risen before… to give hope to generations of Charlestonians, with our prayers and our love and the buoyancy of hope, it will rise again now in a place of peace,” the president concluded.

Roof was arrested in Shelby Thursday morning in connection with the killing of nine people Wednesday night, including pastor and S.C. Sen. Clementa Pinckney, at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

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