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Ammon Baker

10/23/15
6th period

President Obamas Rhetoric


Rhetoric is a form of communication that is meant to persuade an audience. On October
1st, 2015, President Obama addressed the nation with a statement on the Shootings at Umpqua
Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. He used several different rhetorical appeals to try to
convince America to agree with his opinions on gun control. Although some say Obama focused
on using emotional appeals, I will argue that he focuses more specifically on using logical
appeals and character-based appeals.
Before Obama even begins his speech, he is using character-based appeals. As he stands
in the white house with American flags on either side of him in a very nice suit, simply his
appearance shows his credibility and his leadership capabilities. As he begins his statement, he
starts with using a few emotional appeals stating the sorrow for what had previously
commenced, ...theres another community stunned with grief, and communities across the
country forced to relieve their own anguish, and parents across the country are scared because
they know it might have been their families or their children (1). He shares some words about
the good people in Roseburg, Oregon, and then adds, ...the victims -- young men and women
who were studying and working hard, their eyes set on the future, their dreams on what they
could make of their lives. And America will wrap everyone whos grieving with our prayers and
our love (1). These remarks are kind and thoughtful, and they appeal to the audiences sense of
emotion.

However, I will demonstrate that these comments are leading up to and helping his
logical and character-based appeals, which follow shortly afterward. Immediately after stating
those words, the president clearly changes his tone and states quite certainly, But as I said just a
few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these
mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough (1). To add more logic into that
statement, he says, ... it does nothing to prevent the carnage from inflicted someplace else in
America -- next week, or a couple months from now (1). Obama is trying to persuade the
American people that gun control is going to make them safer.
The president strategically uses character-based appeals to add validity to his statements.
Obama says, The United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do
not have sufficient common-sense-gun-safety laws -- even in the face of repeated mass killings
(2). That remark challenges what kind of people the American people are. By saying that we as
an advanced nation dont have common-sense-gun-safety laws (2), it sounds as though he is
questioning the peoples common sense and understanding. The president mentions how gun
control has worked for other countries, Friends of ours, allies of ours -- Great Britain, Australia,
countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it (2). He is using those countrys
credibility and character to relate to the publics own character. Obama knows that many
American people dont necessarily like or trust him. In case they dont have faith in his authority,
he challenges the people to check facts themselves about those who have been killed in gun
violence. This wont be information coming from me; it will be coming from you, he says (2).
As Obama attempts to appeal to the audiences sense of logic, he gives many reasonable
examples of why we need more gun control. For example, he states, We know that gun states
with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws dont

work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns is
not borne out by evidence (2). He brings evidence into his speech to drag more rational
reasoning to the people as logic. As his statement progresses, we see another great example of
this. When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When
Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are
unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves
lives. So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our
Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are
law- abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do
everything they do under such regulations doesnt make sense (3). The President does an
excellent job of presenting examples of similar issues that we have fixed by increasing laws and
control. This statement makes gun control seem very logical and sane.
In closure, I have argued my case that President Obama focused his statement about the
shootings at Roseburg, Oregon more with logical appeals and character-based appeals than with
emotional appeals to gain favor of the American peoples opinion. He used rhetoric very well to
deliver his message.