Wearing a dark blue suit, the somber president pursed his lips frequently as he spoke, as if to contain either anger or sorrow. Obama noted that he and his wife knew the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church pastor who was killed in the shooting, as well as several other members of the congregation.
"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," he said, adding that he was constrained in terms of discussing details of the case. "But I don’t need to be constrained about the emotions that tragedies like this raise. I’ve had to make statements like this too many times."
The president said that the FBI is on the ground and will send more agents to assist with the investigation. He cited a statement by Attorney General Loretta Lynch classifying the effort as a hate crime investigation. But though he acknowledged many facts are not yet known, he also said that insufficient gun laws were partially to blame.
"We don't have all the facts, but we do know that 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 continued. "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. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency."
The president's remarks Thursday were his 14th statement related to a shooting since he took office, according to CBS News' Mark Knoller. Of those, 11 were about shootings in the United States.
Obama -- who tried unsuccessfully to pass new gun control measures in the wake of the mass shooting of schoolchildren and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, acknowledged that it would be difficult to pass anything given the current opposition to such proposals. Referring to the fact that this violence plagues American more than its other industrialized counterparts, he said, "And it is in our power to do something about it."
"I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now," he said. "But it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge it. And at some point it’s going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it, and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively."
This story is developing. Check back for updates...