In the wake of Wednesday's mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. President Obama spoke to CBS News lamenting America’s gun violence epidemic that allows attacks like this one to occur so frequently and expressed the country’s dire need for stricter gun control.
"The one thing we do know is that we have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world," Obama told CBS. "We should never that think this is something that just happens in the ordinary course of events because it doesn't happen with the same frequency in other countries."
As the Guardian noted in their project, “The Counted”, which tracks police killings in 2015, “America is the outlier,” that among other developed countries of similar economic and political standing, the United States falls behind with police violence and mass killings.
For an advanced country, the U.S. stands out among the rest of the world in gun homicides, far surpassing European countries, Canada and Japan, and the reason being citizens' accessibility to the destructive weapons. The image below captures America's extreme gun ownership compared to other countries. In 2007, the U.S. had 88.8 guns per 100 people. Given political decision-making and mainstream culture, guns continue to have a heavy presence in American society and remain readily available for our country's citizens, despite the epidemic of mass shootings.
While the U.S. is considered to be an overwhelmingly violent country — on par with Estonia and Mexico — we are not nearly as violent as we used to be 40 years ago, with the rate of assault deaths having declined by almost half.
Yet despite this promising statistic, mass shootings in the U.S. have become increasingly common in recent years.
An FBI study released last year documented mass shooting incidents from 2000 to 2013 and found that in the first seven years an average of 6.4 active shootings occurred, while in the last half of the study the average spiked to 16.4 active shootings per year.
Not only are shooting sprees common in the U.S., with Mother Jones finding 72 mass shootings have happened in 31 states across the country since 1982, but in most cases the shooters obtained their weapons legally — clearly pointing to our strong need for better regulation and background checks.
"At some point it's going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it, and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively," Obama said in his statement after the Charleston shooting in June.
Gun violence and mass shootings have escalated into crisis mode in the U.S., yet Americans are still not willing to let go of their guns.
A Gallup poll indicate that less than half of Americans, at 47 percent, favor stricter laws on the sale of firearms — a significant drop from the 58 percent recorded in 2012 after the Sandy Hook shooting.
Even with the rise in gun shootings, more Americans are simultaneously desensitized to the mass violence and desperately clinging to their guns.
Pew Research Center found that after mass shootings Americans valued gun ownership far more over gun control, with stronger support for the right to bear arms. Americans even expressed that owning a gun protects people from crime.
But America remains defiantly ignorant of the problem as Obama reiterates how the issue continues without resolution.
As we await his presidential statement on the shooting, the move feels routine instead of significant.
“I have had to make statements like this too many times," the president said after the Charleston shooting in June.
Americans have become numb to gun violence, and Obama's demeanor after every shooting conveys his sense of powerlessness in preventing this overwhelming epidemic.