President Barack Obama on Sunday memorialized the victims of the Washington Navy Yard shooting by urging Americans not to give up on a transformation in gun laws that he argued are to blame for an epidemic of violence.
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama says black Americans feel pain after the Trayvon Martin verdict because of a "history that doesn't go away."
Obama spoke in a surprise appearance Friday at the White House, his first time appearing for a statement on the verdict since it was issued last Saturday.
Obama says African Americans view the case through "a set of experiences and a history that doesn't go away." He says black men in particular are used to being feared and blacks see a disparity in the way they are treated under the law.
He says he also has heard drivers lock their doors and has seen women clutch their purses tighter when he walked by, before he was elected to public office.
The president also said the US is not a post-racial society, but with each successive generation things get better.
The president also questioned whether "stand your ground" laws contribute to peace and security and "order we want to see."
Florida protesters have urged repeal of the state's "stand your ground" measure since George Zimmerman was found not guilty in teenager Trayvon Martin's death.
Obama questioned Friday whether Martin would have been found justified in shooting Zimmerman if he'd been of age and armed.
Obama suggests other measures that communities should consider in the wake of the verdict, including training for law enforcement on race issues, as with legislation he helped pass as a state senator in Illinois.
He downplays the usefulness of a politically led national conversation on race. But Obama encourages families, churches and workplaces to engage in such discussions.
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