These disturbing numbers should infuriate the nation, the president stated. Instead, as many across the US lamented on Friday, shootings in schools and other public spaces have become a tragic routine, to which the American public has become more and more numb.
At a Thursday press briefing, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest emphasized that gun control is a priority for the Obama administration.
"As I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough," Obama said in his speech Thursday afternoon.
With Republicans running both the Senate and the House of Representatives, congressional leaders have shown no willingness to make efforts to curb the proliferation of firearms in the US, despite the staggering increase in the number of mass shootings. The gun lobby, comprised of the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers, also exerts strong control over lawmakers.
"This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction."
In an attempt to prove his point, Obama asked news organizations to compare death tolls from terror attacks to deaths from gun violence in the US:
"I would ask news organizations — because I won't put these facts forward — have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who've been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who've been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports. This won't be information coming from me; it will be coming from you."
"We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths."
Media outlets dutifully responded.
They found that the number of deaths resulting from gun violence this year alone — and it's not over yet — dwarfs both the number of terror-related deaths in 2014, and the number of terror-related deaths in the 44 years prior.
Though the diagrams are striking enough, some still question Obama's prioritization of gun control.
The Washington Post's Phillip Bump noted that people die from myriad other causes in the US each year, be it car crashes (32,719 deaths in 2013) or cancer (more than 550,000 deaths so far this year).
"So Obama's factual point is accurate," Bump said. "His political one — assuming we're understanding it correctly — is iffier."
The difference, of course, is that the car crash lobby doesn't own any Washington politicians, to our knowledge.