Charleston church shooting: Obama's 'hopeless' push for gun control

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Media captionThe BBC contrasts President Obama's reactions after mass shootings, with the levels of US gun ownership during his terms in office. (Video by David Botti)

Another shooting, another sombre statement by President Barack Obama and another call for gun control.

But this time was different - and so was much of the response from conservatives.

"At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries," Mr Obama said on Thursday morning.

He continued: "I say that recognising the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. But it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge it. And at some point it's going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it, and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively."

At some point - as in not today, not tomorrow and probably not anytime soon.

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Media captionPresident Obama expresses frustration over continued gun violence

And that's the reality of gun control in this country. As Mr Obama clearly understands, if a person can walk into a school, murder 20 children and public policy on this issue doesn't change - as happened in the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut attack - it's just not going to change.

The best he can hope for is that someday in the undetermined future there's a different outlook, "at some point".

On social media, a few conservatives snapped back at the president's remarks.

The president "could always try being honest, non-divisive," tweeted's Glenn Reynolds. "You know, for a change."

"It took Obama exactly four minutes to politicise the massacre of nine innocent people in a church," wrote Breitbart's John Nolte. "He's just awful."

He went on to say the best way to have prevented this attack was to have armed parishioners.

He pointed to a South Carolina law prohibiting concealed weapons in churches. "Good reason for mass-shooters to believe a South Carolina church would be filled with helpless, unarmed people," he tweeted.

If the logic seems jarring to some, it might be worth recalling that Texas has responded, in part, to a shooting at a Houston college in 2013 by recently passing a law permitting college students to possess weapons on campus.

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Image caption Rand Paul says government isn't going to fix the "sickness" in the US

That's becoming the more typical reaction to gun violence in many states - less government regulation, not more.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul did perhaps the best job of summing up what can be considered the conservative view on attacks like the one in South Carolina.

At about the same time the president was addressing the nation, the presidential hopeful told evangelical Christian activists gathered at a hotel in Washington, DC that there's a problem, but politicians can't provide the solution.

"What kind of a person goes in a church and shoots nine people?" he asked. "There's a sickness in our country. There's something terribly wrong, but it's not going to be fixed by your government. It's people straying away, it's people not understanding where salvation comes from. I think if we understand that, we'll have better expectations of what to expect from government."

Other Republican presidential candidates offer slightly different takes.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson blames an increasingly divisive politics in the US.

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Image caption Rick Santorum says Charleston attack shows religious freedom under attack

"I worry about a new hate that is growing in our great nation," he writes on Facebook. "I fear our intolerance of one another is the new battleground of evil. Today many feel it is OK to hate someone who thinks differently than you do."

Former Senator Rick Santorum said the South Carolina episode was an attack on religious liberty.

"You talk about the importance of prayer in this time, and we're now seeing assaults on our religious liberty we've never seen before," he said during an interview broadcast on a New York City radio station. "It's a time for deeper reflection beyond this horrible situation."

Others stayed above the fray entirely. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush cancelled a Charleston event scheduled for Thursday and offered condolences to the victims in a statement.

At the same Faith and Freedom Coalition conference that featured Mr Paul, Florida Senator Marco Rubio made no mention of the attack in his speech, while Ted Cruz said "the body of Christ is mourning" and called for a moment of silence.

"A sick and deranged person came and prayed with a historically black congregation for an hour and then murdered nine souls," he said.

After the senators spoke, members of the audience expressed support for the victims.

Image caption Bill Kooymans says he wasn't surprised that Barack Obama again mentioned gun control

"My heart breaks," said Sharon Plichta of Galax, Virginia. "Some people are hurting."

And what about the politics? "It's too hurtful right now to even think about those issues," she said. "I just feel for the families."

Bill Kooymans of Atlanta said he wasn't surprised that Mr Obama once again mentioned gun control in his speech.

"That's to be expected," he said. "Every one of these events, the administration has attacked, so I imagine they will continue to do that."

At this point, however, there's not much need for him to be concerned that Mr Obama will get his way. Not today, not tomorrow and probably not anytime soon.

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