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Making no promises, Obama struggles for solution on violence

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    President Barack Obama spoke to members of the media in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington Monday. Obama said there’s no clear evidence that the shooter at an Orlando nightclub was directed to conduct his attack or part of a larger plot.

WASHINGTON » Was it homegrown terrorism, hatred or random gun violence?

Americans searching for answers after the Orlando shootings are finding no easy solutions from President Barack Obama, who is conceding that a deadly mix of extremism and easy gun access have made future tragedies almost a foregone conclusion.

In the days after the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history, Obama has offered no simple prescriptions or promises for new action — even as the candidates vying for his job put forward aggressive plans of their own. Instead, the president has suggested the root causes behind a “disturbed” man’s actions are difficult to determine and may be less important than a sort of “soul searching” about what to do about it.

“We know that at some point there are going to be, out of 300 million, there are going to be some individuals who find for whatever reason that kind of horrible propaganda enticing,” Obama said Monday. “And if that happens, and that person can get a weapon, that’s a problem.”

The comments were Obama’s most direct acknowledgment yet that the attacks like the one in Orlando may be a new fixture of American life — the sort of observation that could only be delivered by a second-term president with seven months left in office. Obama’s two-prong message, delivered with weary resignation to reporters, was unlikely to quell the fears of those hoping such attacks will never happen again.

But the president has seemed to embrace his end-of-term role. He’s also mindful that his administration has overseen the dawn of a new era of domestic attacks and it is incumbent to try to explain the forces at play.

The White House began pointing in various directions on Monday, defending the administration at each turn while announcing Obama would travel to Orlando on Thursday to “stand in solidarity with the community.”

There appeared to be no missteps at the FBI, which had interviewed presumed shooter Omar Mateen in the past, Obama said. Although Mateen wasn’t on any watch list at the time, Obama blasted as “crazy” a system in which law enforcement officials weren’t alerted when he purchased the assault rifle and handgun used in the attack.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest revived the White House’s oft-repeated critique of Republicans for blocking “common-sense” gun legislation. Though he declared the president was not resigned to accept the outbreak of mass violence as normal and described considerable “presidential frustration,” he did not outline any new push for gun control measures.

The Orlando attack comes as the White House had begun touting new progress against the Islamic State group, one of the groups that Mateen claimed to follow as he carried out the attack.

Last week, the U.S. envoy to the anti-IS coalition argued that the group’s morale was “plummeting” and its funding and recruiting were drying up. Brett McGurk said that IS had lost half its territory in Iraq and that the U.S. and its partners were killing an IS leader about every three days.

Obama had planned to echo that message publicly following a National Security Council meeting on today that will now take on a much less sanguine tone.

The juxtaposition has illustrated that “going after terrorists over there,” as Obama put it last year, has not seemed to lessen the risk of terrorism at home. That’s especially true when it comes to so-called “homegrown extremism” or “lone wolves” — phrases used to describe instances where individuals in the U.S., inspired by groups like IS, take it upon themselves to plan and execute deadly attacks at home.

“It is a perverse reaction to the success that we are having on the geographic battlefield,” said Wendy Sherman, Obama’s former undersecretary of state. “As a result, ISIS is looking to show that it still is powerful, and one of the ways it does that is to claim ‘lone wolf,’ because they don’t have to come to Syria or Iraq or Libya.”

Obama has long conceded that there’s no surefire way to detect those attacks in advance, tacitly putting Americans on notice that some level of violence is inevitable. The FBI said last month it was monitoring more than 1,000 people who are potentially at risk for radicalization and violence.

Though the U.S. has made countering extremist ideologies — especially online — a key component of its anti-IS strategy, the effectiveness of those efforts is called into doubt by continued attacks by people found later to have been inspired by IS from thousands of miles away.

“It is, that if we have self-radicalized individuals in this country, then they are going to be very difficult oftentimes to find ahead of time,” Obama said.

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Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.

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Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP and Kathleen Hennessey at http://twitter.com/khennessey

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  • How ironic that the Prince of transferring what one personally thinks about a situation into public policy, Barry of Puck’s Alley, would be confounded by asymmetrical warfare carried out by nuts who also unquestionably believe that reality is that which they personally think up and believe to be so. Magical thinking rules. Meanwhile over at the Defense Department, people who really do keep this nation safe are hard at work on multiple approaches to winning the war, without posturing in media so O’s successor can carry on the incompetence and pretense.

    • Yes, THIS is the society and culture that progressive liberals want and now have. After 8 years of the most wanton disregard for basic American culture by a man who has had a life experience as far and away removed from nearly every other person in this country, including a nice education at Punahou School, we have a country torn apart, divided, hated by everyone else in the world. Can’t blame Bush for this now. It’s all Obama’s. What a sad pathetic legacy this man will leave behind. The liberal, biased MSM will bend over backwards to write about how wonderful Obama was. But historical, well documented proof will clearly show otherwise. Americans are licking their wounds again this morning, in the wake of another terror attack on our soil, because Obama and his administration WILL NOT and most of all chooses NOT to protect American citizens. But in classic fashion, he is quick to blame others (Trump), implies he can’t do anything because conservatives stand in his way (Congress), and cannot humble himself to accept any responsibility for his leadership shortcomings…which are abundant. Obama cannot get out of the White House fast enough. The longer this guy represents the feckless leadership of the USA, the more at risk we all are.

  • Typical insanity of the left to use a tragedy to further their agenda against gun ownership. They refuse to call Islamic terrorists by their name. Obama said it unfairly paints all Muslims, yet at the same time this fanatic, along with his brethren on the left, paint all gun owners as criminals simply because it’s a convenient way to push their anti-second amendment agenda. If this lunatic in Orlando used a car to kill, the left wouldn’t be hollering to ban cars. It was pathetic today to watch Democrats, on the floor of the house, walk-out during a 15 second moment of silence to honor those killed in the shooting, along with their families. These politicians should be publicly rebuked for their compete lack of compassion, and their obsessive, radical left-wing ideology. Obama and the Democrats are a far greater threat to America than ISIS. Not even close! Their constant attacks on the fabric of our society have been relentless. For all of you on the left: why is Bill Cosby, a black man and a conservative, being prosecuted for crimes against women, and Bill Clinton, a white man and a progressive, isn’t? answer: the left is racist to their core. While I would agree that Crosby’s actions are repugnant, and he deserves to face justice, so does Clinton. His wife played an enormous role, in not only covering for him, but in trying to destroy those women who came forward about his behavior, and she has the gaul to run for the highest office using her vagina as her calling card. Pathetic!

  • Let the next President worry about it. The land of the free has a lot of unstable people. They come because they know we give them food stamps, medical etc. all for free. Stop that and a lot of immigrants will think twice about coming here. These guys getting better treatment then our own homeless most of whom were born here. Tighten up the gun laws. Sure the perps will still get a hold of them but It will be harder to get.

    • Open the borders, let the Islamic radicals recruit Muslim Americans. Keep the flow of drugs flowing on the Mexican border. 16 years of Obama, 16 years of Clinton.

  • Obama’s incompetence breeds more ideological idiocy…O is a borderline lunatic. Libs voted him in TWICE EXPECTING DIFFERENT RESULTS…got worse.
    Make America Great Again will be a huge undertaking BUT President Trump is the MAN who will do it!

  • The problem is not just Obama’s, and there is no one solution.

    The problem is OURS.

    This from an online article I just read:

    America has a gun problem, and the solution to that problem is up to fair debate. But there is no denying that in the past 50 years, guns have killed more people than have died in every single U.S. war — combined.

    Since the Vietnam War, about 67,000 Americans have died in combat.

    In that same time frame, about 1.5 million have died in the US after being shot by a gun.

    Gun deaths in this country are just as common as car crashes. Guns kill more people than AIDS, war, illegal drug overdoses, and terrorism combined. And when you look back over the entire history of the country — stretching back to the Revolutionary War — you learn that guns have killed more Americans than all the wars we’ve fought in combined. [Vox]

    According to Vox’s research, which could only find reliable data back to 1968, about 1.49 million Americans have died of gunshot wounds since Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. By comparison, only about 1.17 million people have died in combat since the U.S. was founded, with more Americans dying from guns during the years of the Obama administration than all the Americans in World War I.

    Of the approximately 33,000 deaths a year, most are suicides, although an entire 11,000 a year are homicides. Mass shootings, such as the one in Orlando, are also on the rise.

    What do we do now? Build a wall, or perhaps a minefield? Deport the ones we don’t like? Intern all people of a non-Christian faith such as those who believe in Islam, regardless of country of origin, just as this country did to the Japanese — but exclude other “we like” such as Germans, Italians, and others? Repeal all gun control laws, so everyone can carry and bear arms — and live like Israelis? Don’t trust your neighbor?

    And who gets to choose who to deport, or inter?

    Let’s turn this country into the “Streets of Laredo” with everyone carrying a hand gun. Let’s go to the other extreme?

    • “I stand behind you in line at the store with a smile on my face…and a GUN under my shirt and you are none the wiser, yet you are safer for having me next to you. I won’t shoot you. My gun won’t pull it’s own trigger. It is securely holstered with the trigger covered. It can’t just go off. However, rest assured that if a lunatic walks into the grocery store and pulls out a rifle, I will draw my pistol and protect myself and my family and therefore protect you and your family. I may get shot before I can pull the trigger…but, I won’t die in a helpless blubbering heap on the floor begging for my life or my child’s life. No, if I die it will be in a pile of spent shell casings. I won’t be that victim. I choose not to be. As for you, I don’t ask you to carry a gun. If you are not comfortable, then please don’t. But I would like to keep my right to choose to not be a helpless victim. There is evil in the world and if evil has a gun, I want one too… “

  • 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)
    14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
    IF we, a a nation, will do this, turn back to God, most, if not all, of the evils that plague us today will go away. Murder is a sin and so is homosexuality.

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