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What to expect from Obama’s historic address to the country about terrorism

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the shootings in San Bernardino, California during a meeting with his national security team in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington December 3, 2015.
Reuters/ Kevin Lamarque
Obama discussing the shootings in San Bernardino on Dec. 3.
  • Olivia Goldhill
By Olivia Goldhill

Science reporter

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

President Barack Obama will address the nation from the Oval Office for the first time in five years on Sunday evening, seeking to address Americans’ concerns following the San Bernardino shooting and other terrorist attacks.

He will begin speaking at 8pm ET and you can watch a livestream of his address here.

The White House said in a statement that Obama will provide an update on the San Bernardino attack and will discuss terrorism in general, “including the nature of the threat, how it has evolved, and how we will defeat it.” It added: “He will reiterate his firm conviction that ISIL will be destroyed and that the United States must draw upon our values—our unwavering commitment to justice, equality, and freedom—to prevail over terrorist groups that use violence to advance a destructive ideology.”

Obama is expected to use his message to reassure the public that the government is working to prevent attacks from homegrown terrorists.

The San Bernardino shooting, which killed 14 and injured 21, is currently being investigated as a possible terrorist incident. If it is such, it will be the deadliest terror attack on US soil since 9/11.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the president will “call on the American people to not give into fear” and will ask them to behave in accordance with the country’s values. She added:

“The president understands the country is very concerned about this issue, and I think what you’ll hear from him is a discussion about what the government is doing to ensure our highest priority.”

There’s speculation that Obama will also comment on gun control. Obama might well “call on Congress to review measures and take action,” said Lynch. For example, a bill that would block those who are on government no-fly lists from purchasing guns would address both homegrown terrorism and concerns about gun violence. Earlier this week, Obama delivered a statement on the San Bernardino shootings and said that individuals who aren’t allowed on planes are still allowed to buy guns. “That’s a law that needs to be changed,” Obama said.

A presidential address from the Oval Office is a relatively rare event. Obama has so far delivered two in his two terms in office, using the last one to announce the end of US combat operations in Iraq in August 2010.

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