President Barack Obama gave a rare prime-time address from the Oval Office on Sunday evening, addressing the growing anxiety of terrorism spreading to the US.
“The threat from terror is real but we will overcome it,” he said, during the 15 minute address.
Obama said that the San Bernardino shooting was “an act of terrorism designed to kill innocent people,” and pledged to “destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us.”
Obama outlined the steps the government is taking to keep America safe and urged American’s not to give into fear.
He said he would review visa waiver program. He urged Congress to reassess gun laws, saying people on the no-fly list shouldn’t be able to obtain a gun and said it should be harder to access certain weapons.
Obama said the U.S. should not engage in a “long and costly ground war.” He argues that ISIS “does not speak for Islam.”
Finally, he said, “we cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between American and Islam.”
The speech comes amid rising public concern about terrorism following last week’s shooting in San Bernardino, California, in which a Muslim couple killed 14 people and wounded 21 before dying in a gun battle with police.
His remarks also come as public distrust in his management of the U.S. anti-terrorism effort, which was once a strength that helped him re-election in 2012, is rising. Terrorism, national security and the place of Muslims in U.S. society have become a contentious 2016 campaign issue and are dominating the presidential campaign.
The gravity of the occasion was underscored by Obama’s decision to use the symbolic power of the Oval Office for a formal televised address for only the third time in his presidency, following remarks on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the end of the combat operations in the Iraq war in 2010.
(With files from CNN)