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Obama Expected to Call for Gun Control in Speech About Terrorism and San Bernardino

The White House says Obama will speak Sunday night from the Oval Office about “the steps our government is taking to fulfill his highest priority: keeping the American people safe.”
Photo by Olivier Douliery/EPA

The White House says President Barack Obama will address the nation from the Oval Office on Sunday night, and he is expected to call on Congress to enact new gun control measures in the wake of the mass shooting in San Bernardino that left 14 people dead and 21 wounded.

The White House press secretary said in a statement that Obama plans to speak about "the steps our government is taking to fulfill his highest priority: keeping the American people safe."

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"The President will provide an update on the ongoing investigation into the tragic attack in San Bernardino," the statement said. "The President will also discuss the broader threat of terrorism, including the nature of the threat, how it has evolved, and how we will defeat it."

Related: FBI Raids Home of Neighbor Suspected of Buying Guns for San Bernardino Shooters

Attorney General Loretta Lynch discussed the president's Sunday night agenda and the San Bernardino attacks on Sunday morning during an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press. Lynch said Obama will ask "Congress to review measures and take action." NBC reported that Lynch's staff later confirmed that the president specifically plans to call for gun control.

Speaking about the mass shooting that occurred on Wednesday in San Bernardino, the attorney general said federal law enforcement is conducting a "terrorism investigation" because of the "indications that we do have of radicalization."

Facebook has confirmed that comments praising the Islamic State (IS) were posted around the time of the shooting to an account set up by shooter Tashfeen Malik under an alias. It's still unclear if the comments were posted by Malik, or by someone with access to her account. The Islamic State claimed the attackers as followers on Saturday, but there's no evidence the attack was directed by the militant group, or that the organization even knew who they were.

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Lynch said that investigators will focus on unearthing as much as they can on the two attackers' lives, including "where they grew up, and where they met." The Justice Department is working with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, where Malik lived before coming to the US on a visa to marry gunman Syed Farook, the attorney general said.

Related: What We Know So Far About the Suspects in The San Bernardino Shooting

Lynch said that US law enforcement has taken a "multifaceted approach" to combating terrorism since the 9/11 attacks. "We have been watching this threat evolve for some time," she said. "We are now at a point where because we in fact have been successful at stopping a number of plots… We do see these lone-wolf actors. We do see these encouragements for troubled individuals to pick up a gun and act out of this ideology."

She added that investigators are currently "reviewing everything" about the San Bernardino case case in search of "common threads" with previous attacks.

Lynch called for Americans to report suspicious activity to law enforcement, explaining that in previous attacks, people around the suspects often picked up on clues. "In a number of these cases, when we look back at these individuals, someone did notice a change," she said.

The president's statement will air at 8pm ET.

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