Washington - President Barack Obama said on Monday that mass killings like the weekend shooting rampage at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin were happening with “too much regularity” and should prompt soul searching by all Americans on ways to reduce gun violence.
“All of us are heartbroken by what happened,” Obama told reporters at the White House a day after a gunman opened fire on Sikh worshippers preparing for religious services, killing six before he was shot dead by a police officer.
Asked whether he would push for more gun-control measures in the wake of the shootings, Obama said he wanted to bring together leaders at all levels of American society to examine ways to curb gun violence.
That echoed his pledge last month in a speech in New Orleans to work broadly to “arrive at a consensus” on the contentious issue after a deadly Colorado shooting spree highlighted the issue in an election year. But like his earlier comments, Obama offered no timetable or specifics for such discussions.
Talk of reining America's gun culture is considered politically risky for Obama, who is locked in a tight race against Republican challenger Mitt Romney for November election.
“All of us recognise that these kinds of terrible, tragic events are happening with too much regularity for us not to do some soul searching to examine additional ways that we can reduce violence,” Obama said at an Oval Office ceremony to sign an unrelated bill.
But he added, “As I've already said, there are a lot of elements involved in it.”
Obama said the FBI was still investigating the temple shooting, but if it turned out it was ethnically motivated, the American people would “immediately recoil”.
“It would be very important for us to reaffirm once again that in this country, regardless of what we look like, where we come from, who we worship, we are all one people,” he said.
Police identified the Wisconsin gunman as Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old US Army veteran. A group that monitors extremists said he was a member of a “racist skinhead band”. - Reuters