The Slatest

15 Other Times President Obama Had to Address Mass Shootings During His Presidency

On Jan. 5, 2012, President Barack Obama talks with tears in his eyes about the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.  

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

To revisit the record of every other mass shooting President Obama has had to publicly address since taking office in 2009 is to realize how many of these horrific events most of us don’t even think about anymore. On Sunday, as the country began to process and react to the nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, the president offered the latest entry in what has become an unfathomably large canon of speeches and statements about mass murder. “We as Americans, we grieve the brutal murder, horrific massacre, of dozens of innocent people,” Obama said. “We pray for their families who are grasping for answers with broken hearts. We stand with the people of Orlando who have endured a terrible attack on their city.” 

Soon, this brief speech will take its place in the history alongside all the others; while it’s still fresh, it’s worth looking back at the opening lines of 15 others that will keep it company.  

1. “Michelle and I were shocked and deeply saddened to learn about the act of senseless violence in Binghamton, New York, today.” (April 3, 2009)  

2. “I had planned to make some broader remarks about the challenges that lay ahead for Native Americans, as well as collaboration with our administration, but as some of you might have heard, there has been a tragic shooting at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas. We don’t yet know all the details at this moment; we will share them as we get them. What we do know is that a number of American soldiers have been killed and even more have been wounded in a horrific outburst of violence.” (Nov. 5, 2009)

3. “As many of you are aware, earlier today a number of people were shot in Tucson, Arizona, including several who were meeting at a supermarket with their congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. We are still assembling all the facts, but we know that Representative Giffords was one of the victims. She is currently at a hospital in the area, and she is battling for her life.” (Jan. 8, 2011)

4. “I know many of you came here today for a campaign event. I was looking forward to having a fun conversation with you about some really important matters that we face as a country and the differences between myself and my opponent in this election. But this morning, we woke up to news of a tragedy that reminds us of all the ways that we are united as one American family. … By now, many of you know, many of you have heard that a few miles outside of Denver in a town called Aurora, at least 12 people were killed when a gunman opened fire in a movie theater, and dozens more are being treated for injuries at a local hospital. Some of the victims are being treated at a children’s hospital.” (July 20, 2012)

5. “Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that tragically took so many lives in Wisconsin. At this difficult time, the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded.” (Aug. 5, 2012)  

6. “We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. And each time I learn the news I react not as a president, but as anybody else would—as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there’s not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do. The majority of those who died today were children—beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them—birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers—men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams. So our hearts are broken today—for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost.” (Dec. 14, 2012)

7. “Before I begin, let me say a few words about the tragedy that’s unfolding not far away from here, at the Washington Navy Yard. That’s part of why our event today was delayed. I’ve been briefed by my team on the situation. We still don’t know all the facts. But we do know that several people have been shot, and some have been killed. So we are confronting yet another mass shooting. And today it happened on a military installation in our nation’s capital. It’s a shooting that targeted our military and civilian personnel. These are men and women who were going to work, doing their job protecting all of us. They’re patriots. And they know the dangers of serving abroad, but today they faced the unimaginable violence that they wouldn’t have expected here at home.” (Sept. 16, 2013)

8. “Hello, everybody. I just got off the phone with Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Sandy Winnefeld to get the latest report on the situation in Fort Hood. Obviously, we’re following it closely. The situation is fluid right now. But my national security team is in close contact with not just the Defense Department but the FBI. They are working with folks on the ground to determine exactly what happened to make sure that everybody is secure. And I want to just assure all of us that we’re going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened. Any shooting is troubling. Obviously this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago.” (April 2, 2014)

9. “As I was preparing my remarks, something intervened yesterday. And so I want to just devote a few words about yesterday’s tragedy in Kansas. This morning our prayers are with the people of Overland Park. And we’re still learning the details, but this much we know. A gunman opened fire at two Jewish facilities—a community center and a retirement home. Innocent people were killed. Their families were devastated. And this violence has struck the heart of the Jewish community in Kansas City.” (April 14, 2014)

10. “We’re the only developed country on Earth where this happens. … And it happens now once a week. And it’s a one-day story. There’s no place else like this.” (June 10, 2014)  

11. “Yesterday, the FBI opened an inquiry into the brutal and outrageous murders of Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Deah Shaddy Barakat, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In addition to the ongoing investigation by local authorities, the FBI is taking steps to determine whether federal laws were violated. No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship. Michelle and I offer our condolences to the victims’ loved ones.” (Feb. 13, 2015)

12. “Good afternoon, everybody. This morning, I spoke with, and Vice President Biden spoke with, Mayor Joe Riley and other leaders of Charleston to express our deep sorrow over the senseless murders that took place last night. Michelle and I know several members of Emanuel AME Church. We knew their pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who, along with eight others, gathered in prayer and fellowship and was murdered last night. And to say our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families, and their community doesn’t say enough to convey the heartache and the sadness and the anger that we feel. Any death of this sort is a tragedy. Any shooting involving multiple victims is a tragedy. There is something particularly heartbreaking about the death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace, in a place of worship.” (June 18, 2015)

13. “I just received a briefing from FBI Director Comey, as well as my White House team, about the tragic shooting that took place in Chattanooga today. We don’t know yet all the details. We know that what appears to be a lone gunman carried out these attacks. We’ve identified a name. And at this point, a full investigation is taking place. The FBI will be in the lead, working closely with local law enforcement.” (July 16, 2015)

14. “There’s been another mass shooting in America—this time, in a community college in Oregon. That means there are more American families—moms, dads, children—whose lives have been changed forever. That means there’s another community stunned with grief, and communities across the country forced to relieve their own anguish, and parents across the country who are scared because they know it might have been their families or their children.” (Oct. 1, 2015)  

15. “Yesterday, a tragedy occurred in San Bernardino, and as I said in the immediate aftermath, our first order of business is to send our thoughts and prayers to the families of those who have been killed and to pray for a speedy recovery for those who were injured during this terrible attack. (Dec. 3, 2015)

Read more from Slate on the Orlando nightclub shooting.