Newtown shootings: Obama says tragedies must end

 

Obama: "Are we really prepared to say we're powerless in the face of such carnage?"

President Barack Obama has said the US must do more to protect its children in the wake of Friday's shootings at a school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Speaking at an inter-faith vigil in Newtown, Mr Obama said he would use the powers of his office to prevent a repeat of the tragedy.

He told residents that the nation shared their grief.

Twenty children and six women died in the assault on Sandy Hook school by a lone man who then took his own life.

The first funerals, for two of the child victims, will be held on Monday.

The gunman has been identified by police as Adam Lanza, 20.

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I really get the feeling of a country struggling to find an appropriate response to this home-grown horror”

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He shot dead his mother before driving to the school in her car.

Officials say he was armed with hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and used a semi-automatic rifle as his main weapon. He was also carrying two handguns, and a shotgun was recovered from a car.

'Can't tolerate this'

"I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation," Mr Obama said, speaking after religious leaders and the state governor.

"You are not alone in your grief. All across this land of ours we have wept with you."

Mr Obama repeated a call for action against gun crime, saying that in coming weeks he would use "whatever powers" his office held "in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this".

At the scene

In a room full of such emotion and sorrow, the president could have just offered support to the town and played the part of healer-in-chief.

Instead, he issued his country with a challenge. "We must change," he said. His voice full of passion, he said that America "can't tolerate" any more gun massacres.

At a restaurant in Sandy Hook, a packed room watched the president on television in complete silence. Afterwards, Seth Greenberg, a high school teacher from a town nearby, said he liked what he had heard and said he was relieved that the president had not been too political.

Seth is a high school teacher who feels conflicted on the issue of gun control. He does not want to see any more gun tragedies and was appalled that the gunman, Adam Lanza, had managed to get his hands on his mother's powerful assault rifle.

But, asked if he supported a toughening of the laws, he paused. "It's not about guns," he said, "but the people that have access to them. The right to have guns is written into the constitution and you take that away, that's like taking away the 10 commandments."

"We can't tolerate this anymore," he said. "These tragedies must end and to end them we must change."

The complex causes of gun crime "can't be an excuse for inaction", he said.

Mr Obama was also meeting victims' families and emergency service workers.

All 20 children who died in the shootings - eight boys and 12 girls - were aged between six and seven, according to an official list of the dead. The school's head teacher, Dawn Hochsprung, was among those killed.

All victims were shot several times, some of them at close range.

Police say the process of releasing the victims' bodies to their families is under way.

Gun control calls

Mr Obama made an appeal for "meaningful action" against gun crime in the US shortly after the attack on Friday.

Sunday saw two senior US Democrats call for stricter gun control.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said his state had an existing ban on assault weapons, but the lack of a similar law at federal level made it difficult to keep them out of the state.

"These are assault weapons. You don't hunt deer with these things," he told CNN. "One can only hope that we'll find a way to limit these weapons that really only have one purpose."

Governor Malloy had to break the news to most of the victim's families on Friday.

"You can never be prepared for that - to tell 18 to 20 families that their loved one would not be returning to them that day or in the future," he said.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, who represents California in the upper house of Congress and is a long-term supporter of stricter gun control, told US TV network NBC: "I'm going to introduce in the Senate, and the same bill will be introduced in the House (of Representatives), a bill to ban assault weapons."

Asked if President Obama would support her measure, she said: "I believe he will."

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, another strong gun control advocate, has urged President Obama to act.

"We have heard all the rhetoric before," he said. "What we have not seen is leadership - not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today."

A nationwide ban on certain semi-automatic rifles in the US expired in 2004.

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  • Comment number 99.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 98.

    It's very simple,

    Remove guns, reduce murders.

    The USA needs to realise that holding 'The Constitution' in such high esteem should never outweigh a moral obligation to protect citizens, which does not mean giving everybody a barrage of guns

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 97.

    We have become used to regular stories of mass killings in the US, BUT this is truely shocking! As a father of two young girls at primary school I can only imagine what the bereaved families are going through at the moment. My heart goes out to them.

    America - how many more innocent lives have to be lost before you do something about your outdated gun laws??

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 96.

    adults have failed the next generation again and again.isn't it time to rethink the system again.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 95.

    All laws need to be looked at and reconsidered. the second amendment is over 200 years old and was perhaps relevant at the time. Perhaps not anymore. This is not just because of the sad tragedy that occurred, have you seen how high up on the list the US are as a percentage of deaths per population due to guns? I do also think it is owed to the children that this cannot happen again.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 94.

    They might not be able to stop all gun rampages but I'm sure they could stop some with some simple age and mental health restrictions.

  • rate this
    -33

    Comment number 93.

    Yet another classic, create the problem to get your desired outcome. Some mind controlled stooge sent in to murder at the behest of others. So they can remove weapons from public hands. Its getting very scary in the US.
    I dont advocate guns or violence. to the same extent I dont agree with the way these people manipulate

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 92.

    I respect the importance which Americans attach to their constitution .... however, the right to bear arms was initially inserted in 1789 when the basic security, stability and very existence of the country was under threat. Life has moved on some way since then! I don't see how the pro-gun lobby can continue to justify their position in this day and age, especially following recent tragic events!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 91.

    My thoughts are with all the families, i am deeply sorry for your losses and pain R.I.P children you will never be forgotten :(
    xxxx

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 90.

    This is up to the people of America,do we love our guns or our children?How many more loss of the innocent can the country take.?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 89.

    53.Big Wolls
    10 Minutes ago
    Absolutely sick to death of the sanctimonious twaddle perpetrated by the NRA - every time somebody is shot, they say the guns arent to blame. Go tell that to the grieving parents of those poor kids - dare to sit among them and say there should be no changes to the law.

    ...... You are assuming the parents don't also own guns themselves.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 88.

    And gun lobbyists still insist that everyone is safer when everyone is armed, the same way everyone is safe from knife crime when everyone carries knives to protect themselves against people carrying knives... Clearly the problem is that America didn't arm those children with fully automatic weapons.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 87.

    @51ken 1760
    The tired old phrase "Guns don't kill people,people kill people" is still heard. Leaving out the gun homicides and suicides, In 2007, 613 people were accidentally shot dead in the U.S. How about a replacement phrase. "People without access to firearms cannot commit carnage in schools and shopping malls every few months".

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 86.

    The Price of freedom on gun control is not paid for in money or favour but in pints of innocent blood belonging to children and adult alike.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 85.

    Unfortunately, you will never get guns out of the hands of US citizens, it's too deeply embedded in their culture.
    The only solution I can see, is to force US citizens to have a licence to carry a gun and carry out an annual check on every gun licence holder to ensure that their guns are locked away - also cross checking with their doctor for any mental health issues.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 84.

    USA typifies the military industrial complex : "Here, take this and protect yourself.". More guns, more deaths, yet more guns, yet more deaths. Feeling the need to own a gun shows there is already something seriously wrong in your surroundings. Unfortunately the lobbies in the USA are just too powerful and don't expect guns to disappear, ever.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 83.

    how many children were killed by obama by drone strikes?. maybe the world needs a right to bear arms against Americans

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 82.

    Nearly everyone in America has guns, it's like they're scared of each other and they have to resort to using weapons. Their Constitution is completely outdated when it comes to gun ownership. But I'm finally glad that Obama can take hold of this tragedy and push for new regulation because I think it's long over due now.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 81.

    I'm not sure why people are downvoting the other comment about the US killing children with drone strikes, I guess you so vividly all believe the glorified version of war that the BBC reports.

  • rate this
    +21

    Comment number 80.

    Any change in US gun law should recognise the reality that there are
    millions of guns in circulation in the country already.

    Making ALL guns illegal would simply mean that law abiding people
    are disarmed while the non-law abiding people remained armed to the teeth. Not good.

    The democrat proposal of stopping all further sale of assault weapons is the right one in the context of America as it is

 

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