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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US gun debate

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  • rate this
    +39

    Comment number 139.

    Connecticut governor: "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."

    Who can really argue with that?

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 138.

    The ridiculous argument is coming out that Guns dont kill but people do, 114 for example, and of course technically it is correct, but try going into a school and killing 25 people with a Cricket Bat. If you are going to allow the unhinged to carry guns you have a massacre waiting to happen!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 137.

    In the UK we have the right to Keep and Bear arms to protect the state by joining the Army. No real change from the 2nd Amend! And Guess what. Assault rifles are kept safely, Handguns are locked away and we have very few deaths from firearm in the UK. For the terminally thick Guns KILL, that is their ONLY purpose. I prefer Courts to protect my rights.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 136.

    @118

    Entirely false statement. Did you just wake up this morning and make this up or hear it in the pub and assume it is true.

    Someone gets shot in Britain and it's front page news for weeks. Someone gets shot in the US and it wont even make the local papers.

    If you give everyone a gun, lunatics will kill people. Simple

  • rate this
    +26

    Comment number 135.

    Following such an event, the authorities should fine the specific gun manufacture $10million for each person killed.

    Manufacturers will say they only provide the item and are not responsible for any outcome - tough.

    The American public cannot buy chemical weapons at Walmart, what's the difference?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 134.

    104 presario
    Gun ownership per 100,000 population...
    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?
    _
    It is a big part of it. The Swiss still have too many gun related homicides.

    The point is that the gun makes it too easy for a sick individual to mass murder.

  • rate this
    -50

    Comment number 133.

    26 victims is horrendously attrocious, but what of 4267 dead victims of Londons polution.

    UK polution deaths is passive public mass murder, UK government has FAILED to meet EU polution regulations

    If Taliban murdered 4267 people there would be outrage, yet passive lifestyle polution MASS murder is accepted by the majority population.

    Maybe we should drone bomb random cars/lorrys in UK

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 132.

    What's more important, children or guns? Unfortunately, in the US, the answer is clear, and it ain't the kids. Like on many other issues, US lawmakers are too dependent on gun money to ever vote to restrict their use. That's what happens when elections cost more money than the parties can afford.

  • Comment number 131.

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

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 130.

    Unfortunately this problem is bigger than pure gun ownership and the type of weapon.

    This is a fundamental cultural issue, both the politicians and the Gun lobbyists know this.

    Anyone who's tried to change a culture know's:

    1. It will never happen over night.
    2. Expect an uphill struggle.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 129.

    Having watched a few "reality documentaries" and heard the reasons for owning guns;

    A Remington pump action for home defence.
    A 1911 for personal defence.. at a stretch.
    A .308 for small game hunting, larger calibers for larger game.

    There is no justified reason for owning assault rifles, automatic shotguns etc. Don't have to give up arms, just reduce what is allowed without professional need.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 128.

    It is plain & obvious that if people are allowed by law to collect & store guns and ammunition in their houses that ghastly tragedy will occur

    America is not living in 19th Century Wild West

    Remove the guns then lunacy of mind that gravitates around guns will be curtailed, and hopefully in time go away completely. We do not have such gun problem in UK & that is because guns are not allowed

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 127.

    You could take Nobel Peace Laurate Obama more seriously on this if he wasn't busy signing off on extra-judicial killings and predator drones over friendly countries killing innocent women and children.
    No, but lets blame technology for the actions of a deranged psychopath who would probably have carried out the actions with a spoon failing the availability of guns.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 126.

    @104. you have illustrated perfectly - if anyone needs convincing - that there is a very clear link between having guns and using them to kill people, versus not having guns and not using them to kill people. Not an precise mathematical fit, but good enough for any doubters

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 125.

    117 just hit the nail on the head. The gun enables the crime. No gun, no crime. I wonder why people are so against the idea that guns are dangerous weapons that we can do without. I don't feel the need to carry a gun aound for protection. Not sure I would be a very accurate shot even if I did need to use it!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 124.

    @102 Pete "all twisted with hatred for the world, their violent fantasies fuelled by the horrible electronic video games"

    20+ People dead and you 'use' it as a platform to for your agenda attack some measly video games. Just sick, have some respect for the dead. Newsflash - mass murderers have been around alot longer than xboxs. Please don't disgrace the memory of these victims with such idiocy.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 123.

    I discuss gun control with my American friends quite regularly and the thing that shocks me the number of guns they own, it's not unusual for them and their neighbours to have multiple guns of various sorts (handguns, rifles and shotguns) in their houses. When asked why the simple answer from most of them is "we've always had guns" and this pretty much sums up the problem for me.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 122.

    In modern society carrying knives is "cool" and carrying guns is "cooler". Games, Hollywood blockbusters, billboards and more showing carnage is just another day occurrence. We make it the norm. Who is to blame us or our kids? When we correct society and learn to bring back manners and respect for others we may just correct our mistakes. If it's not too late already.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 121.

    After years of Shottings just like this, I cannot understand why the U.S. has such archaeic Laws protecting Gun ownership and seem to think they are still living in some sort of perverted Wild West !

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 120.

    After Dunblane in this country all schools became aware of security. Schools have high perimeter metal fences and secure password keyboards. Americans need to become aware of security in all their school to safeguard their vulnerable children. This is the 21st century "the right to bare arms" is so out of date in their society.
    My thought go out to the parents' and families of the victims.

 

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