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
    +5

    Comment number 859.

    @828.Art16Just now
    It seems that people feel it is OK to stab 22 children in defense of gun control. What next, a knife lobby?

    So I take it u didn't understand the point I was making, but good try at trying to twist the argument, but failed miserably. Anyway what would you rather have a person wielding a knife or a semi automatic gun. I know which one I would prefer.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 858.

    The problem with legislating just to stop massacres is that they are undertaken by nutters, who will be able to get hold of a gun if they so wish regardless of the law. Furthermore if guns were banned I'm sure there would still be millions upon millions of guns that otherwise law abiding people simply wouldn't hand over. Maybe if it was compulsory to carry a gun the teachers could have shot back

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 857.

    Have any of those trading anti-US stereotypes ever been there? I can't speak for ALL parts of the US, or even everyone in the parts with which I'm familiar (Mass / NH) but I do know that none of my wife's family / friends own or have any desire at all to own firearms. Claims that they're available in supermarkets or as common an accessory as a wallet or phone, just don't ring true for me.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 856.

    For the NRA & those who wish to keep US gun laws as they are, can we maybe set a total number of child fatalities at which the number of kids killed in school shootings will be enough for them to consider a change?

    Maybe 300? That should be enough. Any other suggestions cowpokes?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 855.

    @826
    Buffoonery!
    No-one is blaming guns. Everyone is blaming a system taht allows dangerous needless weaponry to be bought, carried and used by people.
    The gun lobby groups can't even get that simple distinction right. There is little hope for a sane solution to this. Many more children and other innocent bystanders will die - nothing will change.

  • rate this
    -13

    Comment number 854.

    Gun ban is a bad idea. Each school should have an armed guard with special training for this situation.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 853.

    @710 Really!? that is what you take from this sensless tragedy... a chance to have a pop at Obama. Grow up!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 852.

    The USA gun laws are a sick joke and the right to bear arms is a joke. Obama will do little to tackle the gub lobby because they are so powerful.

    It is like their stand on N-wepons. America is the only country ever to use them not once but twice. They keep tellling others except Israel that they must not develop them. What a laugh......... Do as we say not as we do

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 851.

    821.Adam
    4 Minutes ago

    There is a fine line to be drawn between defending the Constitution and protecting the public, but you don't need a semi-automatic machine gun to exercise your second amendment rights. You can do that with a simple hand gun.

    +++

    Against your fellow American who is asserting his/her supposed right to have a gun too.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 850.

    808. A Hugh-Man "If banning firearms is not feasable, why doesn't the US introduce harsh, nay, punative penalties for the missuse of firearms"

    The guy who misused the assault rifle then killed himself. What did you have in mind? Locking up his corpse?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 849.

    In the last few weeks people have been killed by bow and arrow or pushed in front of a train. There is no real solution for those listening to voices in their head. Giving someone a pill and sending them home doesn't work. In the US troubled people do not get put in mental hospitals until they kill someone. It is too late then. A gun law won't do much to change that.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 848.

    re787 david
    i've read the link,have you?.
    all the children in the knife attack survived!that's a fact.
    so my point stands then.If that chinese guy had a bushmaster assault rifle and hand guns he would have killed them all.Luckily he only had a knife and as a result there will not be a single funeral to attend.there's going to be 26 in the next few weeks in america.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 847.

    Yes it will take a long time to sort out the sheer number of guns owned by US citizens, but you have to start somewhere, otherwise preventable massacres will continue indefinately. I heard the sheriff say on tv that all the weapons used were registered to Adam Lanza's mother. These were assault weapons. What the hell is a school teacher doing with assault weapons?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 846.

    It is horrible, and I genuinely do feel for all involved.

    But I find the over-coverage distasteful. 10 Afghan children killed today? Gets mentioned just before the weather forecast....

    If this had happened in China/Nigeria/India etc, it would have got less coverage than the cricket.

    And I doubt Americans would be discussing UK law if it happened here....

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 845.

    All this talk about a few deaths, it does not matter. kids are dying around the world each day in situation we can change quite easily but we choose not to. Wake up America! you that have caused so many deaths in the world will reap what you sow. How many adult relatives of those who died own a gun and will now get rid of it?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 844.

    Theres not too many things in this world that are as disgusting and horrible as what happened to those kids. american's need to rally together and abn guns period. it might take 10 years hard work to do so but wouldnt any parent do that if it was to bring to child back?
    seriously heart breaking incident and i only hope the families cope well enough to get through this. RIP little ones.... angels

  • rate this
    -17

    Comment number 843.

    The reasons? Mental health, gun control, security in schools, etc, But we must not forget that our protection of children starts when they are still in the womb. If we want to protect children, we must also recognize the psychological impact of a culture that promotes abortion and refers to unwanted pregnancies as "being punished with a child". That notion infests our collective unconscious.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 842.

    @779.Anarcho-libertarian
    "The right to bear arms remains an important check on the power of the state."

    The capacity of a well-armed militia to defend the people against a tyrannical state has not existed in decades. The US military (i.e. 'the state') is the most powerful military in the history of the world. It would crush any militia in minutes. As such, the 2nd amendment is meaningless.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 841.

    "828.Art16
    It seems that people feel it is OK to stab 22 children in defense of gun control. What next, a knife lobby?"

    As terrible as the China attack was it left 22 INJURED children. Had that madman had ready access to guns it would have been 22 deaths. Anything to defend your hunting toys!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 840.

    Guns are not culture Music & art is culture not guns

    Whatever would comfortable Americans want guns for in their homes?

    Is it a fetish thing or are they so scared & threatened by their neighbours?

    If both of the above are true then America is clearly a very unsafe & unsteady place to live & bring up a family

    Mr Obam urgently needs to get radical changes underway & quickly

 

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