Obama Tells Mourners at Navy Yard Memorial Service: Gun Control "Will Happen"

Never one to let a tragedy that can be used to push more gun control go to waste, President Obama used the memorial service for victims of the Navy Yard tragedy as a forum to call for stricter gun control. In a speech sure to anger gun owners everywhere, Obama blamed access to weapons as the reason for the tragedy and pointed to strict gun control in other Western nations as the answer.

President Obama offered solace to those affected by the tragedy, mentioned Robert Kennedy's speech after the Martin Luther King assassination and then said the following:

"The tragedy and the pain that brings us here today is extraordinary. It is unique. The lives that were taken from us were unique. The memories their loved ones carry are unique, and they will carry them and endure long after the news cameras are gone. But part of what wears on as well is the sense that this has happened before. Part of what wears on us, what troubles us so deeply as we gather here today, is how this senseless violence that took place in the Navy Yard echoes other recent tragedies."

He's right. We have been here before. The Fort Hood shootings immediately come to mind. In 2009, Nidal Malik killed 13 people and injured 30 at Fort Hood military base in Killeen, Texas. This is the second mass shooting at a military base since President Clinton disarmed all but the MPs at military bases, leaving them sitting ducks in the event of an attack. That's right; our military can be trusted to bear arms in defense of this great nation, but are largely unable to defend themselves while stationed on-base at home.

I can't help but wonder whether this tragedy would have occurred at all on an armed military base. Would the shooter have been brave enough to attack a base he knew to be full of armed soldiers? Even if he had of, those on base would have been able to return fire, and there likely wouldn't have been anywhere near as many victims. It may have taken as long as 7 minutes for armed first responders to arrive on the scene. A lot of shots can be fired at innocent victims in that amount of time.

Obama goes on to mention grieving with 5 communities "ripped apart by mass violence" during his tenure as President. He mentions Fort Hood, Tucson, Aurora, the Navy Yard and Sandy Hook by name. That had to feel like a slap in the face to those affected by the recent mass shooting in Chicago, where 13 people were shot at a pickup basketball game Thursday, Sept. 19. Maybe he didn't mention the shooting because it was in a city plagued by gun violence. A city with some of the strictest gun control laws in the United States.

Each of the victims were mentioned by name. This part of the speech touched me and pulled at my heartstrings.

Then came the call for stricter gun control:

"So these families have endured a shattering tragedy. It ought to be a shock to us all as a nation and as a people. It ought to obsess us. It ought to lead to some sort of transformation. That’s what happened in other countries when they experienced similar tragedies. In the United Kingdom, in Australia, when just a single mass shooting occurred in those countries, they understood that there was nothing ordinary about this kind of carnage. They endured great heartbreak, but they also mobilized and they changed, and mass shootings became a great rarity.

And yet, here in the United States, after the round-of-clock coverage on cable news, after the heartbreaking interviews with families, after all the speeches and all the punditry and all the commentary, nothing happens. Alongside the anguish of these American families, alongside the accumulated outrage so many of us feel, sometimes I fear there’s a creeping resignation that these tragedies are just somehow the way it is, that this is somehow the new normal.

We can’t accept this. As Americans bound in grief and love, we must insist here today there is nothing normal about innocent men and women being gunned down where they work. There is nothing normal about our children being gunned down in their classrooms. There is nothing normal about children dying in our streets from stray bullets.

No other advanced nation endures this kind of violence -- none. Here in America, the murder rate is three times what it is in other developed nations. The murder rate with guns is ten times what it is in other developed nations. And there is nothing inevitable about it. It comes about because of decisions we make or fail to make. And it falls upon us to make it different."

While I wasn't surprised the President used the Navy Yard shootings to push his agenda, I was shocked he did so in a speech at a memorial service for the victims. That is neither the time nor the place to push politics.

The Navy Yard shooter used a shotgun, which nobody is advocating outlawing, yet the President calls for more gun control at the memorial? This was nothing more than the politicization of a tragedy. What's next? An executive order banning shotguns?