San Bernardino shooting: Prayers offered in wake of tragedy that killed 14

Fourteen people died in yesterdays shootings, prompting renewed calls for greater restrictions on gun ownership in the US.Reuters

A mass shooting in California on Wednesday, which killed 14 and wounded 17 others, was the 355th to take place in America this year alone.

Two assailants opened fire at a centre for people with disabilities in San Bernardino on 2 December. The attackers have been identified as 28-year-old Syed Rizwan Farook, and Tashfeen Malik, 27. They were both killed in a shoot-out with police, and a third suspect has been detained, though it is not clear whether he was involved in the incident.

Following the shooting, there was an outpouring of grief and solidarity with the victims online, with many – including prominent Christian activist Shane Claibourne – criticising US gun laws for being too lenient.

Many people have drawn particular attention to the way that prayers are immediately offered in the aftermath of such tragedies, yet little is done practically to tighten gun laws.

President Obama has repeatedly advocated for greater restrictions on gun ownership, and following a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon in October told reporters that "prayers are not enough".

"This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction," he said.

Following yesterday's incident, Obama said the pattern of mass shootings in the US "has no parallel anywhere else in the world."

"We should never think that this is just something that just happens in the ordinary course of events because it doesn't happen with the same frequency in other countries," he told CBS News.

"There's some steps we could take, not to eliminate every one of these mass shootings, but to improve the odds that they don't happen as frequently."