WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama said yesterday he would make a political issue of gun violence following the mass shooting at an Oregon college and pressure Congress to change firearms laws.
"This will not change until the politics changes and until the behavior of elected officials changes," Obama said at a White House news conference. "The main thing I'm going to do is I'm going to talk about this on a regular basis. And I am going to politicize it. Because our inaction is a political decision."
Obama urged Americans who favor laws such as stronger background checks on gun buyers to become "single-issue voters."
"The reason Congress does not support the modest gun safety laws we proposed after Sandy Hook" -- the slaughter of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school in 2012 -- "is not because the majority of Americans don't support it." Rather, he said, it's "because interest groups fund campaigns" and "feed people's fear."
However, Obama said he would not shut down the government over a single issue -- a tactic some conservative Republicans advocated to stop Planned Parenthood funding.
The president's remarks came when he was asked for his response to a comment from Jeb Bush, a Republican contender for president.
Bush told a forum in South Carolina that he's opposed to new federal gun laws. He said he learned as Florida governor that "stuff happens . . . there's always a crisis, and the impulse is to do something, and it's not necessarily the right thing to do." Bush said afterward that "stuff" referred to tragedies in general, not specifically the Oregon killings.
Obama said voters "can decide whether or not they consider that 'stuff happening.' "