Obama says easy access to weapons 'unconscionable'

President Barack Obama speaks to journalists at the White House. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)
President Barack Obama speaks to journalists at the White House. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)

Washington - Renewing his call to reduce gun violence, President Barack Obama characterised easy access to weapons as "unconscionable" Saturday, less than a week after the worst mass shooting in US history.

"Even after we see parents grieve for their children, the fact that we as a country do nothing to prevent the next heartbreak makes no sense," Obama said in his weekly radio address, which fell one day ahead of Father's Day.

Forty-nine people were killed and 53 were injured when a gunman opened fire early Sunday at Orlando, Florida's Pulse nightclub, armed with a legally bought assault rifle.

The gunman, 29-year-old Omar Mateen - a Muslim American of Afghan descent - ran amok in the packed gay club, pledging allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State group before being killed in a police raid.

"Being tough on terrorism, particularly the sorts of homegrown terrorism that we've seen now in Orlando and San Bernardino, means making it harder for people who want to kill Americans to get their hands on assault weapons that are capable of killing dozens of innocents as quickly as possible," Obama said.

Weapons of war

In a similar incident, a man and wife opened fire in San Bernardino, California, on a Christmas party in December, killing 14 people in a separate mass shooting.

"Like all dads, I worry about my girls' safety all the time. Especially when we see preventable violence in places our sons and daughters go every day -- their schools and houses of worship, movie theaters, nightclubs, as they get older."

"It's unconscionable that we allow easy access to weapons of war in these places," Obama said.

On Thursday the president traveled to Orlando, where he met with the families of the victims and demanded that the Republican-controlled Congress pass gun control.

"We need our kids to hear us speak up about the risks guns pose to our communities, and against a status quo that doesn't make sense. They need to hear us say these things even when those who disagree are loud and are powerful," Obama said on Sunday.

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