WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – In a rare prime-time televised address from the Oval Office, President Barack Obama promised Americans the federal government is prepared to stop the spread of terrorism both abroad and in the United States.
“Tonight, I want to talk with you about this tragedy,” began Obama in his 14-minute national address on Sunday evening. The speech, which touched on issues involving Homeland Security, gun legislation and a global terrorism strategy, came less than a week after a married couple in a San Bernardio, Calf., now recognized as radicalized terrorists, killed 14 people and wounded 21 at a recreation center.
“They had stockpiled assault weapons, ammunition and pipe bombs. So this was an act of terrorism, designed to kill innocent people,” Obama said.
Since the attack on Dec. 2, investigators have been trying to determine if the suspects were inspired by or acted in allegiance with ISIL or another radical terrorist group. According to the president, the FBI’s investigation of Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, is still ongoing, and as of Sunday evening, no specific links had been determined.
During the address, Obama once again urged Congress to take steps to reduce gun violence in the U.S. by enacting stronger background checks and preventing the sale of some assault weapons.
“To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a ‘no-fly list’ is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security, ” he said.
Pres. Obama was also forceful in his discussion of ISIL, describing the radical terrorist group as “thugs and killers, part of a cult of death.”
He also reminded the American people that ISIL and other radical terrorists do not speak for all Muslims, nor do their values represent the religion of Islam. Believing this fallacy, he says, will only playing into their hand.
“They account for a tiny fraction of a more than a billion Muslims around the world, including millions of patriotic Muslim-Americans who reject their hateful ideology,” he said.
Obama ended his speech on a note of unity, encouraging Americans to recall traditional American values.
“We were founded upon a belief in human dignity that no matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God and equal in the eyes of the law,” he said.
“Let’s make sure we never forget what makes us exceptional. Let’s not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear. That we have always met challenges, whether war or depression, natural disasters or terrorist attacks, by coming together around our common ideals as one nation and one people.,” he continued. “So long as we stay true to that tradition, I have no doubt that America will prevail.”
Republicans respond to Presidential push
Less than an hour after the Sunday night speech, critics of the President’s plan took to social media to urge for more concrete solutions to battle ISIL.
The enemy is adapting, and we must too. That’s why what we heard tonight was so disappointing: no new plan, just a half-hearted attempt to defend and distract from a failing policy. – Rep. Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House
Sunday’s speech also took center stage in the 2016 presidential campaign. On Twitter, candidates had plenty to say: