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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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 119.

    This is just like the parliament we have , Mps we voted in never listen to the people .. the Senate will not pass a law that restricts guns because to many rich and influential folk want guns to play with , we have the same thing here only not a serious as killing. our views are totally ignored its sad but true when in power their view on everything changes money talks .

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 118.

    @106.family guy
    3 Minutes ago
    BAN THE GUN
    NOW

    The UK has had more gun crime since handguns were banned. Ban people!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 117.

    Events like this are influenced by news media. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. The message is clear to other disturbed kids: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. Guns only enable the crime: the crime itself is caused by the media. As counter-intuitive as it seems, such crimes shouldn't be reported nationally or globally.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 116.

    Imagine how much it's going to cost them trying to enforce it if they do bring in tighter controls. Seems like every bloke and his dog has a gun in the states - it would just end up being a new black market.

    Guns are embedded in the American culture, I can't see that changing any time soon!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 115.

    Hi,
    This chap, Adam, was obviously mentally ill, and wanted to kill people. He would have been unable to do this if guns were not reaily available. It's a no brainer really, no guns = no gun killings.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 114.

    Firstly, my heartfelt thoughts go out to ‘all’ families who have lost a child to such evil terrorists... including the little ones being killed at the hands of the USA/British funded so called ‘Syrian rebels’. That said, blaming a gun for this atrocity is like blaming a spoon for someone getting fat! Is it not obvious that evil sick psychopaths kill children... not the weapons!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 113.

    Billy the Kid is dead. Time to hang up your holsters people.

    It's the equivalent of your local chav druggie owning a Bull Terrier for protection. Sooner or later, you'll get bitten.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 112.

    a great moving statement by obama, i only hope the general population of the usa get behind him and the leadership he has shown.

    however when i read articles about football fans and gun nuts posting racist comments on twitter my heart sinks. hopefully they are a minority.i tried to post a link to said articles but because the url contained the n word i was unable to.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 111.

    This outpouring of grief from American politicians will been seen as yet more empty rhetoric UNLESS they do something to ban the carrying of guns. There is no reason for anyone to own an assault rifle or it's ilk. The Americans need to realise that they are not living in the wild west any more!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 110.

    In this country you need to provide a reason to hold a gun, these are normally for sport, vermin conrol etc. What reason would you need a hand gun, the only thing you would shoot with a hand gun is someone else. There are pretty much 0 deaths where the perpetraitors possess legal firmarms.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 109.

    #80 - Peter
    You are partially right. The bad guys still get hold of guns in the UK. The difference is the scale that US gun control law creates. The US has a population 5x the UK, but gun homicides 80 (EIGHTY)x UK, total murder rate about 20x UK, and about 30x as many law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty over the last decade.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 108.

    #70 Not empty, that was his point, there have been too many of these mass killings, in a nation which tolerates tens of people killed and injured every day.Madness.A valid point was also made over the weekend was that because there is no USA universal health care, like the NHS in the UK, few mechanisms exist to monitor people who are mentally unstable, and they slip through the net.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 107.

    56. spam spam spam spam

    The guns did not do this all on their own, the guns did not kill, it was Adam Lanza.

    ___

    The guns did not kill? - Really?

    So you think that Adam Lanza would have killed all those people without a gun? I think that is very unlikely indeed. Pretending that the gun is not a big part of the problem is just sticking your head in the sand.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 106.

    BAN THE GUN

    NOW!

  • rate this
    -20

    Comment number 105.

    Democrats are such hypocrites on gun control. 28 US kids died, everyone yells, no more guns. Well, I can see both arguements. But let me ask you this, how many ppl have UK&US killed collectively? Justified or not. Why don't you call for universal disarm of western armies? That'd save more lives.
    If a country likes to have rights to defend itself, why not let its citizens enjoy the same right?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 104.

    Gun ownership per 100,000 population: USA=88,000; Switzerland=45,700;Sweden=31,600; England and Wales=6,200.
    Homicides per 100,000 population; USA=2.98; Switzerland=0.52; Sweden= 0.19; England and Wales= 0.04.
    Switzerland has about half the guns per head of USA but about one sixth of the homicide rate. Comparisons with other countries produce similar anomalies. Is gun ownership the problem?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 103.

    If Obama is sincere in his determination to make a change he should now do everything in his power to limit gun ownership and ban military style weapons. He has no more elections to fight; he would go down in history as a man who genuinely tried to make America a safer place to live, unlike his predecessor.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 102.

    There are plenty of budding young psychopaths in the world, all twisted with hatred for the world, their violent fantasies fuelled by the horrible electronic video games they play in their bedrooms. Can the gun lobby not see that it is quite crazy to allow these budding psychopaths access to a full armoury of assault weapons? I'd also ban the video games.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 101.

    Obama is meant to be a leader! Tell the voters that having a country awash with legally held guns doesn't keep the public safe. Ban assault rifles and restrict automatic handguns to clubs. Let the hunters keep slow firing licensed bolt action rifles if they really must go around blowing away deer. Surely that won't harm the constitution too much, and it will keep the death toll down.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 100.

    It`s not just assault weapons that need to be banned but guns...........period. The problem is there are so many guns in america that any legislation will have zero effect. If anyone wants a gun they are freely available and anyone wanting to go on a rampage will have the means available to them. As for the NRA they are part of the problem, not the solution.

 

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