WASHINGTON — The failure to win tougher background checks for gun purchases or other new firearms regulations is the "biggest frustration" of his term in office, President Barack Obama said Tuesday, as he decried school shootings that are "becoming the norm" in ways that "as a parent, are terrifying to me."
Answering questions on the social media site Tumblr, Obama said that gun violence in America is "off the charts" and that "we should be ashamed" of its prevalence.
He also brushed aside the argument made by some opponents of new gun regulations that mental illness, not guns, lies at the root of recent shootings.
"The United States does not have a monopoly on crazy people," Obama said. Yet "we're the only developed country" that suffers repeated mass shootings.
Obama made his remarks after a period of just over two weeks in which the country has witnessed several high-profile mass shootings.
On May 23, a gunman killed himself and six others in Isla Vista, Calif., near the University of California at Santa Barbara, four by shooting. On Sunday, two police officers, a third person and the two shooters were killed in Las Vegas. Shootings in recent days have taken the lives of students in Seattle and near Portland, Ore., and more than 30 shootings on school campuses have taken place this year, according to groups that track news reports.
But Obama, whose effort to tighten gun regulations failed last year after the shootings in December 2012 in Newtown, Conn., held out little hope of change on the issue.
"If public opinion does not demand change in Congress, it will not change," he said, criticizing candidates and lawmakers who are "terrified of the NRA."