He said that while the investigation constrained what he could say about the facts of case, he was not constrained by emotion.
Obama said that it is tragic anytime Americans die in a situation like this. But it is especially heartbreaking when it happens "at a place where people are seeking peace."
He said the Emanuel AME is a church that has seen tragedy in the past. It was burned to the ground because its worshippers wanted to end slavery. It's a place where civil rights leaders spoke and led marches in search for freedom.
"This is a sacred place in the history of Charleston and in the history of America," Obama said.
Today, he said, marks another attempt against a black church in the United States. And like this church and others like it have rebuilt in the past, Mother Emanuel "will rise again, now."
Obama went on say that this is a recurring theme in modern American history.
"I've had to make statements like these too many times," he said. Yet again, he added, innocent people have been killed by someone "who wanted to inflict harm and had no problem attaining a gun."
"At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this kind of mass violence doesn't happen in other advance countries," he said.
Obama said he understands that the current political climate in Washington "forecloses the avenues" to address the issue through legislation.
But, he said, "it'd be wrong for us not to acknowledge it."