charleston shooting
Obama hails victims’ relatives and repeats call for stricter gun control Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

US President Barack Obama has hailed the relatives of the victims of the Charleston church shooting for "forgiving" Dylann Roof while yet again lobbying for stricter gun control.

Obama praised the remarks made by a relative of the victim that they forgive the suspect even though he went on the rampage.

During a direct confrontation at a US court, where Roof faces nine murder charges, a daughter of one of the victims said: "I forgive you."

Addressing a conference of US mayors in San Francisco, Obama said it was "an expression of faith that is unimaginable but that reflects the goodness of the American people".

In his second call since the massacre, which is being treated as a hate crime, that killed nine people, Obama said the US needs stricter gun control in order to address increasing crimes, many of which are racially-motivated.

He said: "More than 11,000 Americans were killed by gun violence in 2013 alone. If Congress had passed some common-sense legislation after Newtown, after a group of children had been gunned down in their own classroom, reforms that 90% of the American people supported... we might still have more Americans with us."

"It's not enough for us to express sympathy; we have to take action." The Senate failed to rally behind the earlier bill which called for banning assault weapons.

He also called on Americans to be vigilant against racism in the US.

"The apparent motivations of the shooter remind us that racism remains a blight that we have to combat together. We have made great progress, but we have to be vigilant because it still lingers. And when it's poisoning the minds of young people, it betrays our ideals and tears our democracy apart."