President Barack Obama has admitted that his failure to pass “common sense gun safety laws” in the US is the greatest frustration of his presidency.
In an interview he said it was “distressing” not to have made progress on the issue “even in the face of repeated mass killings”.
However, Mr Obama said race relations had improved during his presidency.
Hours after the interview, a gunman opened fire at a cinema in the US state of Louisiana, killing two people and injuring several others before shooting himself.
In a wide-ranging interview, President Obama also said:
- The UK must stay in the EU to have influence on the world stage
- He is confident the Iran nuclear deal will be passed by Congress
- Syria needs a political solution in order to defeat the Islamic State group
- He would speak “bluntly” against corruption and human rights violations in Kenya
- Despite racial tensions, the US is becoming more diverse and more tolerant
Mr Obama lands in Kenya later on Friday for his first visit since becoming president.
But with just 18 months left in power, he said gun control was the area where he has been “most frustrated and most stymied” since coming to power in 2009.
“If you look at the number of Americans killed since 9/11 by terrorism, it’s less than 100. If you look at the number that have been killed by gun violence, it’s in the tens of thousands,” Mr Obama said.
“For us not to be able to resolve that issue has been something that is distressing,” he added.
Mr Obama has pushed for stricter gun control throughout his presidency but has been unable to secure any significant changes to the laws.
After nine African-American churchgoers were killed in South Carolina in June, he admitted “politics in this town” meant there were few options available.
Nine months ago, the president seemed like a spent force, after taking a beating in the midterm elections, during which members of his own party were reluctant to campaign on his record.
But the man sat before me today was relaxed and confident, buoyed by a string of “wins” on healthcare, Cuba and Iran, after bitter and ongoing battles with his many critics.
The only body swerve the president performed was when I asked him how many minds he had changed on the Iran nuclear deal after an intense sell aimed at Gulf allies and members of US Congress who remain implacably opposed.
There was a momentary flicker across the president’s face as if to say “You think you got me?” before his smile returned and he proceeded to talk about how Congress would come round.
But notably, he did not give a direct answer to that question, which leaves me with the impression that he has persuaded precisely zero.