"I've had to make statements like this too many times," he said in brief remarks from the White House podium, flanked by an equally ashen-faced Vice President Joe Biden.

"Once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun," he complained.

Mass shootings are not a uniquely American phenomenon, but culturally similar countries like Australia and Britain tightened gun laws after massacres and seem to have saved lives.

Many in the United States see the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which protects the right of citizens to bear arms, as a bar to any limitations on gun ownership.

And on Capitol Hill many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle support gun ownership or at least respect the power of the industry lobby and the depth of feeling among gun enthusiasts.

"Now is the time for mourning and for healing, but let's be clear: 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," Obama said.

"It doesn't happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it," he said.

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