If You Didn't See Obama’s Gun Violence Statement Live, You Should Watch It Here

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.
Below you see the YouTube version of the official White House feed from earlier today. I’ve set it to begin around time 36:40, when relatives of gun victims come on stage. A father of one of the first-graders killed at Sandy Hook makes an introductory statement starting at time 38:00. Obama himself begins speaking at around time 42:30 and introduces former Rep. Gabby Giffords, herself gravely injured in the Tucson shooting five years ago, early in his talk.

The part of the presentation that is being replayed on all news shows starts around time 1:12:00. The ending, telling the story of the unplanned Medal of Honor-scale heroism of a 15-year-old named Zaevion Dobson, starts three minutes later, at 1:15:00.

I think the presentation as a whole — talking about law, balances of rights, the art of the possible, the long process of political change — will be one of the moments that is remembered and studied from Obama’s time in office. (Like his “Amazing Grace” speech after the Charleston shootings, which I wrote about here.) This presentation is not as rhetorically polished as that one—Charleston’s was a performance, this is a statement—but it is impressive on many levels.

More on the substance later on. For now, this is worth taking time to watch. (Update: the White House site has clips and text from the statement here.)