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Obama on San Bernardino: We need to make it harder for people to "get access to weapons"

Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

In a brief Oval Office statement on the San Bernardino shooting Thursday morning, President Barack Obama said the suspected killers' motives were still unknown — but that all Americans, including "our legislators," had "a part to play" in reducing violence like this.

"We see the prevalence of these kinds of mass shootings in this country," the president said. "And I think so many Americans sometimes feel as if there's nothing we can do about it." But, he argued, "we can't just leave it to our professionals to deal with the problem of these kinds of horrible killings. We all have a part to play."

Then Obama obliquely alluded to congressional inaction on gun control. "It's going to be important for all of us — including our legislators — to see what we can do to make sure that when individuals decide to do somebody harm, we're making it a little harder for them to do it." He continued: "Because right now it's just too easy. And we're going to have to, I think, search ourselves as a society to make sure that we can take basic steps that would make it harder — not impossible, but harder — for individuals to get access to weapons."

The killers' motives are still unclear

"At this stage, we do not yet know why this terrible event occurred," Obama said. "We do know that the two individuals who were killed were equipped with weapons and appeared to have access to additional weaponry at their homes. But we don't know why they did it. We don't know at this point the extent of their plans, we do not know their motivations."

"It is possible," Obama continued, "that this was terrorist-related, but we don't know. It's also possible that this was workplace-related." He added that the FBI was now handling the investigation, and said: "There may be mixed motives in this, which makes the investigation more complicated."

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