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

    Comment number 1019.

    @831. Sixp
    "I, for one, feel a lot more relaxed knowing its very unlikey that every nut I see is packing an assault rifle"
    I bet that nut is feeling more relaxed you're defenceless too.

    Can't you have a concealed pistol at least?
    "police... said it's unusual for a robber to become a victim in his own crime."

  • rate this

    Comment number 1018.

    "this 'defense against the state' idea is absoloutely absurd and 150 years out of date"

    Tell that to the Syrians being murdered by the state right now."

    The Syrians have yet to adopt the principles of the supremacy of the rule of law and government being a servant of the people not its master that the US and UK put in place well over 200 years ago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1017.

    Just now
    Youtube has numerous examples of how concealed carry weapons in the US prevent crime.Remember folks the Police always show up after crime is committed.Armed citizens means less crime.


    So why is crime the activity of choice for so many of your fellow Americans?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1016.

    Americans kill more Americans every year than anyone else.

    And some argue for more guns?

    You don't need an atomic bomb to become death, the destroyer of worlds, semi-automatic weapons and a bad attitude seem to do the job just as well

  • rate this

    Comment number 1015.

    someone just needs to reword the constitution so it says "right to bare arms" instead of "right to bear arms"

  • rate this

    Comment number 1014.

    Gun laws need to change that's for sure but it wont happen over night.
    This will take generation to make the necessary changes for it being written into there constitution that was written over 200 years ago makes there feelings on this subject strong and there will be friction.
    I just hope that common sense prevails.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1013.

    2 Minutes ago
    Still waiting for your evidence

    Armed robbers taken out
    Murderers stopped
    Possibly because of how they are dealt with, and how added to stats?
    If you look up "Stand Your Ground or Castle Doctrine" you find some

  • rate this

    Comment number 1012.

    Chap from the US gun lobby on the radio this morning. He said two things:
    1) In response to last week's events, arm teachers.
    2) The right to bear arms is critical due to the potential need to rise up against any form of dictatorial government.

    These are 19th century views that have no place in any country that cherishes democracy. Time to move on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1011.

    We are not getting a balanced reporting of the world's troubles. 20 children + 6 adults dead is tragic, but the media has brushed aside natural disasters in the Philipines for example - > 1000 deaths by just 1 typhoon.

    It is so inconvenient to remind people that climate change is trouble that won't go away until the politicians come clean and earnestly do something about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1010.

    I have to wonder how many americans have actually read the 2nd amendment before claiming their "Rights"? The 2nd amendment says citizens have the right to form militias in defence of the state. As such an argument could be made that as is the 2nd amendment could stop this by having guns stored at central locations. Its the courts that changed the meaning somehow so people could keep them at home

  • rate this

    Comment number 1009.

    Yet another tragedy, my heart felt sympathies go out to all those that are bereaved by this senseless shooting. All so young, what a waste of human life. The right to bear arms I understand is in the American constitution. With respect I suggest you remove it in the name of life saving common sense. As to carry on with it shows no sense at all.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 1008.

    Most of you so-called "Europeans"criticizing America are anti-American and are simply using this crime to express your hate and jealousy."

    What is your evidence? I, for one, love America and have many American friends. I just can't bear to see six-year-olds being gunned down because of outrageous gun laws, and neither should you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1007.

    I say we should arm everyone with knives in Britain. Surely, that will solve all our problems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1006.

    The problem in the US is how easy it is for these lunatics to get access to these weapons. If there were stronger gun laws then surely the amount of these events will fall. Coumbine, Viginia Tech and now Newtown could of been avoided should these YOUNG boys not had such easy access to these weapons. Adam Lanza got those guns from his mothers own collection!!! This will happen again without change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1005.

    The 2nd amendment makes no mention of guns, so can America really rest easy until every school and home has it's own nuclear arsenal with which to protect itself from all the other people with nuclear weapons?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1004.

    Americans must be paranoid if their only argument to bear arms is the ability to take on their own government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1003.

    "people kill people"

    Yes... with guns. Ban them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1002.

    Youtube has numerous examples of how concealed carry weapons in the US prevent crime.Remember folks the Police always show up after crime is committed.Armed citizens means less crime.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1001.

    The Illuminati/New World Order are loving this. Barack Obama is probably fake and is secretly glad this happened. Once guns are banned the whole world is doomed as when the governments turn against us we will have nothing to protect ourselves with. Look at the UK! New York has banned guns yet they have the highest death rate by guns. Look at Mexico. You people are so naive its frightening.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1000.

    They could start with banning sale of the massacre weapons of choice, high capacity magazines and assault rifles.
    Then they could introduce a year by which all non military guns must be locked to the owners thumbprint.

    Then maybe in 50 years they will get some sanity in the US about the stupidity of having such weapons floating around in easy reach of the angry, or mentally disturbed.


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