Speaking at the memorial service to honor the victims of the shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, US President Barack Obama on Sunday called on Americans to overcome what he termed their "creeping resignation" about gun violence in the country.
"I'm here today to say there's nothing routine about this tragedy. There's nothing routine about your loss," the president said, directly addressing the families of the 12 victims who were gunned down at the navy facility last Monday.
He also noted that the rate of the deadly use of guns was much higher in the United States than in nations such as Britain or Australia. Then he made an impassioned plea for tougher US gun control legislation.
"If we really want to honor these 12 men and women, we really want to be a country where we can go do work and go to school and walk our streets free from senseless violence without so many lives being stolen by a bullet from a gun, we are going to have to change," the president said.
Obama had proposed tighter gun control legislation earlier this year in light of a mass shooting that killed 26 people at an elementary school in the eastern state of Connecticut last December. However, the US Congress rejected the proposals, which among other things would have seen sales of certain types of guns restricted and background checks required for the sale of more types of weapons.
The measures were also strongly opposed by the powerful lobby group the US National Rifle Association.
Monday's shootings have been blamed on Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old former Navy reservist and information technology contractor who had a record of mental illness and previous run-ins with police. Monday's rampage ended after he was shot dead in a gun battle with officers.
pfd/lw (AP, Reuters, AFP)