At a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Los Angeles on Thursday, former President Barack Obama addressed the newspaper shooting in Maryland. In comments that touched on American gun policy, Obama spoke about the Capital Gazette shooting in Annapolis that killed at least five people.
Obama didn't just talk about what happened; his words captured the message of broken-heartedness that took over Twitter Thursday afternoon. CNN Executive Producer David Gelles tweeted a transcript from Obama’s speech.
“First of all, what happened in Annapolis seems to happen every few weeks, few months,” the former president said, according to Gelles' tweet. “And I am heartbroken for the families, obviously, the news organization that was affected.”
According to POLITICO, Obama was speaking in the Beverly Hills backyard of two Democratic mega-donors. But Obama didn’t stop at just issuing condolences. He took it a step further, making a point to call out America’s policies on guns.
“And I am hopeful that each time one of these tragedies strikes, we remind ourselves that this is preventable," Obama said. "It is not inevitable, that America is not the only nation on earth that has people who are troubled or violent, but we are unique in the weapons that those people can deploy, and it is costly.”
The tone of Obama’s speech was drastically different than the comments, or rather tweets, of current President Donald Trump. He briefly addressed the shooting on Twitter, saying he “was briefed on the shooting at Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
But he’s constantly demonized the press, calling them the “enemy of the American people.”
Then when he had the chance to comment on the devastating shooting in person, Trump ignored questions from reporters. As NBC News shows in a video, the president walked away as reporters probed him with questions such as "Can you please talk to us about the dead reporters in Annapolis?" and “Do you have any words of condolence for the families, Mr. President?”
And Trump walking away from the scene without commenting was a depart from the way he’s handled shootings in the past. After the Las Vegas shooting that left 58 dead in October, President Trump stopped to comment on the tragedy as he left the White House for a trip to Puerto Rico.
“Look, we have a tragedy. What happened is, in many ways, a miracle,” Trump said told reporters, as captured in an NBC video. “The police department, they’ve done such an incredible job. And we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes on. But I do have to say, how quickly the police department was able to get in was really very much of a miracle. They’ve done an amazing job.”
And simply tweeting condolences without a follow up is a vastly different approach than the one Obama took when he was serving as President. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut during which a shooter killed 20 children between the ages of five and ten years old adults, Obama addressed the nation with a solemn speech delivered with heart.
During the speech, he paused to wipe a tear from the corner of his eye before saying “They had their entire lives ahead of them… Our hearts are broken today.”
It’s been less than 24-hours since the news about Annapolis broke, so it’s still possible Trump will make a speech. But his evasion of reporters’ questions Thursday was enough to draw criticism from users on Twitter, with Politico reporter Josh Meyer going so far as to say: “I can't think of a single other President in my lifetime who would have acted like this.”
With all this as a precursor, Obama’s Thursday night response to the shooting was all the more poignant.