President Barack Obama offered some of his most forceful comments to date on gun violence in America, hours after the country faced its 74th school shooting in the 18 months since the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

During a Q and A with Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp, Obama was asked about the spate of mass shootings in the United States and lack of action on gun control. The president said it is his “biggest frustration so far” that America has been unwilling to take basic steps to reduce gun violence.

“The country has to do some soul-searching on this. This is becoming the norm,” Obama said. “Our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There’s no advanced developed country on earth that would put up with this.

The president said he respects gun rights, but he lamented the fact that even a modest bill to expand background checks failed to pass in the Senate last year. That legislation, which would have required universal background checks for all gun purchases, fell victim to a GOP-led filibuster amid intense pressure from the National Rifle Association.

“Most members of Congress are terrified of the NRA,” Obama said. “The only thing that is going to change is public opinion. If public opinion does not demand change in Congress, it will not change.”

 

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