White House press secretary Jay Carney said that President Obama's thoughts were with the families of those killed in a mass shooting at Fort Hood military base and said more must be done to help veterans returning from the nation's wars.
“This administration has been committed to upholding our sacred trust with America's veterans,” Carney told reporters. But he conceded that there “is work that remains to be done.”
He said the administration would redouble their efforts to help veterans returning from war.
“We need to be mindful in this country that even as the wars end that what we owe our veterans does not end,” he said.
Carney said Obama had made clear to his administration that helping returning veterans is a “high priority issue.”
Army Spec. Ivan Lopez, is suspected of murdering three soldiers and wounding 16 others during a shooting spree. Lopez turned his weapon on himself, according to reports, before he could be apprehended.
The tragedy shocked the nation, coming five years after an Army major, Nidal Malik Hasan, killed 13 and wounded dozens in another mass shooting at Fort Hood.
Army Secretary John McHugh told lawmakers on Thursday that Lopez had seen a military psychiatrist last month and had undergone treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder but showed no signs of violence, reports said. Lopez had been deployed to Iraq in 2011 as a truck driver.
“The president and first lady's thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the killed and wounded individuals,” Carney said. “We commend the military personnel, the first responders and the medical staff who provided — who responded swiftly to the horrific shooting.”
He said that Obama had “directed his team to utilize every resource available to fully investigate the shooting.”
“The president will continue to receive updates as new information becomes available, and has directed that his team do everything it can to assist the families of the lost and wounded,” he added.
But Carney also sidestepped questions about whether the shooting would renew the nation's contentious debate over gun control, saying that it was too early to discuss.
“I would urge you to wait until a little more time has passed since we are dealing with the immediate circumstances of this incident,” he said in response to a question about gun control.
Carney though added that separate from this incident, Obama had made clear his support for tougher gun control and his “frustration with Congress and its failure to listen to the overwhelming majority of the American people” whom he said backed tougher background checks.
He said the administration would continue to “look for ways” to implement common sense measures to reduce gun violence.
In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting, Obama pressed for tougher background checks and bans on the sale of military style assault weapons. But legislation deadlocked amid opposition from conservative lawmakers and red state Democrats.
The president pressed ahead with a number of executive actions to reduce gun violence, based on the recommendations of a panel led by Vice President Joe Biden.
Obama on Wednesday, hours after the shootings, said that he was "heartbroken" by the news.