President Barack Obama called the the shooting in San Bernardino “an act of terror,” but still stressed the need for a gun law his spokesman said would not have prevented the attack.
The FBI officially announced the shooting was a terrorism investigation on Friday. Obama and other administration officials had been reluctant to refer to the shooting – which killed 14 at a social service facility for the disabled – as terrorism. The shooters, Syed Farook, 28, and Tasfeen Malik, 27, both Muslims, were killed in a shootout with police. Federal and local law enforcement officials are still trying to determine the motives.
“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,” Obama said.
“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,” Obama continued.
But the president further said of the attack, “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,” Obama said. “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.”
Obama called for stricter background checks and the no-fly rule shortly after the shooting on Wednesday. However, on Thursday, when asked if either such law would have prevented the attack in San Bernardino, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, “In this incident, of course not.”