President Barack Obama delivered a major Oval Office address Sunday night, seeking to reassure the nation about threats facing the US days after the deadliest terrorist assault on US soil since September 11, 2001.
In Sunday's speech — Obama's third from the Oval Office andsecond official Sunday-night primetime address — the president laid out his strategy for confronting the evolving nature of foreign and homegrown terrorist threats, including plots inspired by the terrorist group the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
"The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it," Obama said. "We will destroy ISIL and any other organization who seeks to harm us."
Obama's speech came days after the attack in San Bernardino, California, which left 14 dead and more than 20 others wounded. One of the shooters allegedly pledged her allegiance to the terrorist group ISIS on Facebook as the attack was unfolding.
Obama spent the majority of his speech detailing the tactics that the administration is already employing to fight ISIS — including deploying special operations forces to Iraq and Syria, bombing ISIS targets, boosting intelligence-sharing with allies, supporting Iraqi and Syrian forces on the ground, and pursuing a political settlement to end the Syrian civil war.
But Obama also spoke directly to members of Congress, urging action on the authorization of military force against ISIS and congressional action to make it easier to monitor individuals traveling to the United States without visas.
The president also called for congressional action to place greater restrictions on assault rifles and a ban on gun purchases by individuals on the FBI's "no-fly list."
"What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terror suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security," Obama said.
"I know there are some who reject any gun-safety measures, but the fact is that our intelligence and law-enforcement agencies, no matter how effective they are, cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual is motivated by ISIL, or some other hateful ideology. What we can do, and must do, is make it harder for them to kill."
Attempting to address many Americans' mounting fear of future terrorist attacks, the president ended his speech by emphasizing what he would not do: commit more ground troops to Iraq or Syria, and not let "this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam."
"ISIL does not speak for Islam. They are thugs and killers, part of a cult of death. And they account for a tiny fraction of a more than a billion Muslims around the world, including millions of patriotic Muslim-Americans who reject their hateful ideology," Obama said.
He added soon after: "Let's not forget that( freedom is more powerful than fear)."