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Obama Reacts To Mass Shooting In San Bernardino, Calif.


President Obama has been briefed on the shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., and he was asked about it as it was still unfolding in an interview with the White House with CBS News. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith joins us now. And, Tam, what did the president have to say?

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: He said that there's a pattern in this country of mass shootings that, quote, "has no parallel anywhere else in the world." And he said that there are steps that could be taken to improve the odds of preventing these kinds of things from happening. Of course, you can't do - there's nothing you can do to fully prevent it. And I want to play you a clip from that interview he did with Norah O'Donnell at CBS News.


BARACK OBAMA: What we do know is that there's steps we can take to make Americans safer and that we should come together in a bipartisan basis at every level of government to, you know, make these rare as opposed to normal. We should never think that this is something that just happens in the ordinary course of events 'cause it doesn't happen with the same frequency in other countries.

KEITH: He also talked about something that has come up in the news in recent days following the Paris shooting, which is the idea that people on a No Fly List can still actually purchase guns in the United States of America at this time. But if what the president says sounds familiar, it's because it is. The president has found himself in a similar situation weighing in on mass shootings repeatedly during this presidency, even earlier this week talking about the Planned Parenthood shooting.

SIEGEL: President Obama mentioned things that could be done on a bipartisan basis. Is there any reason to believe that this time will be different?

KEITH: Not particularly. America's gun politics are pretty intractable at this point. And one thing that was different in what the president said this time and is probably a reflection of his resignation about Congressional action - he said that instead of simply - instead of calling on Congress, he was saying that potential changes need to be made at the state and local level. And it's really signaling that he thinks that his chances at the federal level are limited at this point.

SIEGEL: And very briefly, is there any prospect for executive action - federal but not involving Congress?

KEITH: It's something gun control advocates are certainly pushing for in a big way. They think that there are at least some things he could do to tighten the sale of guns by non-gun dealers.

SIEGEL: OK, thanks Tam. That's NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.