President Barack Obama on Thursday called for new federal gun control measures after a meeting with family members of victims of Sunday’s Orlando mass shooting , saying the parents he met there “don’t care about politics.”
After the president and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. laid 49 white roses — one for each Pulse nightclub patron killed — at a memorial in the Central Florida city, Obama told reporters the family members’ collective grief “is beyond description.”
“Our hearts are broken, too,” he and Biden told them, via a White House pool report. “We stand with you.”
The entire Orlando area has been “shaken by an evil, hateful act,” said Obama, who has played consoler in chief after mass shootings multiple times.
He has spoken extensively — and publicly shed tears — about how the 2012 mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, shook him as a president — and as a parent.
About the atmosphere in the room inside Orlando’s Amway Arena where he and Biden met with the family members, the president said, “Most of all, there is love.”
Obama said the shooting incident and the gunman’s alleged 911 call to pledge his allegiance to the Islamic State show a continuing need to defeat the violent extremist group.
But “it’s going to take more than our military,” Obama said. “Our politics have conspired to make it as easy as possible for a terrorist … to buy extraordinary powerful weapons and they can do so legally.”
That’s when Obama told reporters, in a message apparently aimed at lawmakers, that the parents he met with do not care about the politics of gun control and gun rights.
“Neither do I. This debate needs to change,” he said. “Those who defend the easy accessibility of assault weapons should meet these families.”
His Orlando visit came hours after Connecticut Sen. Christopher S. Murphy held the Senate floor in a talking filibuster , with the help of his fellow Democrats, for almost 15 hours, demanding GOP leaders allow votes on gun measures.
Early Thursday morning, Murphy announced Democrats would get their votes . And Obama said he “truly hope[s] that senators rise to the moment and do the right thing.”
“We can stop some tragedies. We can save some lives,” he said. “If we don’t act, we will keep seeing more massacres like this.”
Obama made a plea for Americans to put aside differences like sexual orientation. The Pulse was a popular gay nightclub.
“It’s a good time for us to reflect on how we treat each other,” he said. “We have to end discrimination and violence against our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community.”