Over the weekend President Obama focused his weekly address on the topic of terrorism and the recent shooting in San Bernardino, California, where a pair of Muslim terrorists murdered 14 people at a Christmas party. In his address, President Obama argues that people who are on a “No-Fly” List should not be allowed to own firearms, even though No Fly lists are notoriously faulty. Once again, President Obama misses the mark by focusing on irrelevant trivialities instead of the heart of the matter.
This weekend, our hearts are with the people of San Bernardino—another American community shattered by unspeakable violence. We salute the first responders—the police, the SWAT teams, the EMTs—who responded so quickly, with such courage, and saved lives. We pray for the injured as they fight to recover from their wounds.
Most of all, we stand with 14 families whose hearts are broken. We’re learning more about their loved ones—the men and women, the beautiful lives, that were lost. They were doing what so many of us do this time of year—enjoying the holidays. Celebrating with each other. Rejoicing in the bonds of friendship and community that bind us together, as Americans. Their deaths are an absolute tragedy, not just for San Bernardino, but for our country.
We’re also learning more about the killers. And we’re working to get a full picture of their motives—why they committed these revolting acts. It’s important to let the investigators do their job. We need to know all the facts. And at my direction, federal law enforcement is helping in every way that they can. We’re going to get to the bottom of this.
It is entirely possible that these two attackers were radicalized to commit this act of terror. And if so, it would underscore a threat we’ve been focused on for years—the danger of people succumbing to violent extremist ideologies. We know that ISIL and other terrorist groups are actively encouraging people—around the world and in our country—to commit terrible acts of violence, often times as lone wolf actors. And even as we work to prevent attacks, all of us—government, law enforcement, communities, faith leaders—need to work together to prevent people from falling victim to these hateful ideologies.
More broadly, this tragedy reminds us of our obligation to do everything in our power, together, to keep our communities safe. We know that the killers in San Bernardino used military-style assault weapons—weapons of war—to kill as many people as they could. It’s another tragic reminder that here in America it’s way too easy for dangerous people to get their hands on a gun.
For example, right now, people on the No-Fly list can walk into a store and buy a gun. That is insane. If you’re too dangerous to board a plane, you’re too dangerous, by definition, to buy a gun. And so I’m calling on Congress to close this loophole, now. We may not be able to prevent every tragedy, but—at a bare minimum—we shouldn’t be making it so easy for potential terrorists or criminals to get their hands on a gun that they could use against Americans.
Today in San Bernardino, investigators are searching for answers. Across our country, our law enforcement professionals are tireless. They’re working around the clock—as always—to protect our communities. As President, my highest priority is the security and safety of the American people. This is work that should unite us all—as Americans—so that we’re doing everything in our power to defend our country. That’s how we can honor the lives we lost in San Bernardino. That’s how we can send a message to all those who would try to hurt us. We are Americans. We will uphold our values—a free and open society. We are strong. And we are resilient. And we will not be terrorized.