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

    Comment number 159.

    To me we have made huge progress in many fields, being able to land on the moon and beyond, but we have not made good progress in finding the cause of others wanting to kill others, so that it can be detected early and prevent the damage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    #140 - LeftLibertarian
    Yes but if the criminals remain armed after a ban, they can be stopped searched and jailed for carrying an illegal firearm. Currently you have to wait for them to use the gun before you can touch them. Surely its better to get them before they commit murder rather than after?

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    Listen to the average american talking about more or less anything then try to guess have far below 100 their IQ is.
    Large areas of the USA are like the Jeremy Kyle show gone mad.
    Should these people have un-limited access to guns of course not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    The 2nd Amendment was a huge mistake by the Founding Fathers of the US. It may have been relevant 250 years ago, but there is no justifiable reason for anyone to have a 'right' to carry a murder weapon. Gun control is the mark of a civilised nation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    It would be wonderful if their deaths meant that tougher gun regulation was finally enacted in a nation which in spite of professing to be one of the most forward-thinking and intelligent countries on Earth has one of the highest gun-crime rates on the planet. It unfortunately won't. The "pry this from my cold, dead hands" brigade will be too up in arms (many of them quite literally). It's tragic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    120.peter gilmore

    Totally agree with you - unfortunately all these safe-guards would not stop a nutter with an assault rifle getting into the school.

    As a father of two with one in primary school this type of story really does worry me. There is no chance of stopping the "Lone Gunman".

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    You can Dislike my comment as much as you like, fact is US Foreign Policy kills more children than Guns in America, thats ok tho? As long as the children are not White/ American!? Wasn't that long ago Obama was laughing and joking about his predator drones.

  • Comment number 152.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    114 Info Warrior - I think you will find that it's Assad's regime which is killing the majority of innocent civilian Children - not the US or UK, who until recenty have only provided humanitarian aid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    For the most part it is a Republican thing to oppose any form of gun control. Now they are under the cosh..if they resist new legislation they will be seen as condoning the slaughter of innocent people by deranged people with assault weapons. Obama should push pike mad for change now whilst the people have the Newtown slayings fresh in their memory.
    Ban all but single shot weapons countrywide.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    As long as the USA has powerful lobby groups such as the NRA (amongst others) & there is no limit to the amount of $ available for lobbying then I'm afraid nothing will happen to stop similar situations happening again.

    Sadly these groups have more influence than people realise

    No Congressman will risk ruining their political career by opposing these people. And you thought the UK was bad?

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    I suppose keeping guns legal in the U.S. enables the people to fear each other enough to not take down the system that thrives on mutual antagonism, exploitation, and other modern forms of historical rape, pillage, and plunder.

    That said, i'm speechless in the face of this i am in the face of the close-to-half-a-million children who died in Iraq due to U.S. embargoes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    Guns don't kill people, people kill people.

    Addendum: Guns allow people to kill multiple people very easily, at a distance.

    This is the problem, a simple handgun gives any person a great deal of power and you need to be careful what kind person is granted that power.

    The US system of letting everyone have a weapon as a 'right' is foolish, especially combined with their detestable gun culture.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    Most Europeans find it hard to come to terms with the Americans Obsession with firearms.
    Over 300 Million firearms are lawfully in private possession in the USA the Americans use these to shoot 85 of each other dead every day.

    Regularly "law abiding" affluent young men go on a killing rampage.

    A 230 Year old law designed to defend the USA against the UK isn't worth all these deaths.

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    99.spam spam spam spam

    "Jump in your car, live your poluting lifestyle = YOU ARE a passive MASS MURDERER, of course, guiltless."

    Stupid comment.

    Even if you only cycle and walk everywhere the computer you're using and the data centre that power's this webiste use electricity generated in a power station so you are also a "passive mass murderer" as you put it, just to a slightly lesser degree.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    The frequency and scale of these massacres are increasing. In the UK, you usually get idiot criminals killing idiot criminals. Innocents do of course get caught up in it, but not every nutter can grab a gun and go on a spree like in the States. Very worrying :(

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    People that argue it is people who kill, not guns, have missed the point entirely. Last year in the whole of Europe about 200 people were killed by shooting. In america it was over 9000! The facts speak for themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    Americans can't be too protective over their consitution as it's a blooming amendment that allows them this right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    I can't imagine how those parents are feeling, however, laws should be made with a cool head and with rational thought, not with the crying of grieving parents ringing in your ears.

    Let the emotions subside, then make your decisions, based on a careful analysis of the benefits, probelms and perhaps unwanted consequences.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    An 'outright ban on guns', dis-arms the law abiding.
    In the UK the petty criminal, the one most people may have dealings with is usually unarmed, in the USA, they have guns.
    The self-defence argument is valid.
    Congress may( I doubt it) restrict access to assault rifles and other high powered firearms.
    There needs to be a change in the mindset, owning a firearm is not like owning a lawnmower.


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