WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says his biggest frustration so far as president is that American society hasn’t been willing to take steps to strengthen gun control.
Obama is reflecting on frequent mass shootings during a question-and-answer session on social media site Tumblr. He says the U.S. should be ashamed.
Obama says there’s no place else in the world where mass shootings are a once-a-week occurrence. He says the country must do some soul-searching.
Obama says he respects gun rights. But he says he was stunned after the Newtown school shooting that Washington couldn’t even pass universal background checks. He’s citing the political strength of the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers.
Obama says until there’s public opinion a fundamental shifts, the problem won’t change. He says as a parent, that’s terrifying.
Another part of the discussion involved Obama saying that easing the burden of student debt is key to encouraging more students to pursue critical fields like teaching and social work.
Obama says those who want to pursue “helping professions” shouldn’t be dissuaded because of low salaries. He says giving people flexibility to repay loans ensures their careers aren’t constrained by costs. He says it could open up a huge pool of talent.
Obama is urging Congress to pass legislation allowing borrowers to refinance student debt at lower rates. He’s also taking executive steps to let more borrowers to cap their monthly payments at 10 percent of their income.