Obama says U.S. has to 'do something' about guns after Colorado shooting

U.S. President Barack Obama addresses a joint news conference with French President Francois Hollande in the East Room of the White House in Washington November 24, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (Reuters)
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By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Expressing what has become regularly repeated frustration on the issue, President Barack Obama said on Saturday the United States needs to "do something" to make it harder for criminals to get guns after a shooting in Colorado killed three people and injured nine.

"We have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them. Period," Obama said in a statement. "Enough is enough."

In Friday's shooting, an assailant opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic, a center that provides health services including abortions, in Colorado Springs.

It was the latest in a long series of U.S. mass shootings during Obama's seven years in office. He has called the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, his toughest day as president.

Obama said it was too soon to know the Colorado Springs shooter's "so-called motive" but said the tragedy was more evidence pointing to the need to reform firearms laws.

"This is not normal," said Obama, who has become increasingly forthright in urging gun control measures when he makes statements after such events. "We can’t let it become normal."

Obama tried to tighten up gun laws after the Newtown shootings, but met resistance in the U.S. Congress, including from some of his fellow Democrats, and failed to push a measure through.

After another deadly shooting at an Oregon community college last month, Obama said White House lawyers would pore through existing laws to look for new ways he could use his executive powers to enforce regulations.

One of those options would require more gun dealers to get a license to sell guns, which would lead to more background checks on buyers.

The White House had drafted a proposal on that issue in 2013, but was concerned it could be challenged in court. Administration officials are now hopeful they can find a way to advance the plan.

Obama has also pledged to elevate the issue of gun laws during his remaining time in office, and has denounced lawmakers for bowing to pressure from the powerful National Rifle Association lobby group.

On Saturday, he said Americans could not "offer up our thoughts and prayers" for the families of the dead police officer and of the two other victims of the shooting "with a truly clean conscience" unless they also pushed for changes to make it harder to get guns.

"May God bless Officer Garrett Swasey and the Americans he tried to save - and may he grant the rest of us the courage to do the same thing," Obama said.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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