Newtown shootings: Obama seeks 'complex' gun reform

People placing an angel on top of a Christmas tree at a makeshift memorial in Newtown, Connecticut, 18 December

US President Barack Obama has met senior officials to discuss how to respond to Friday's school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 20 children and six adults died.

The White House said curbing gun violence was a "complex" problem that required a comprehensive solution.

On Sunday Mr Obama told Newtown residents he would do everything in his power to prevent further tragedies.

The first two funerals of victims of the shooting were held on Monday.

Novelist Lionel Shriver discusses the place of the gun in US society

Sandy Hook school pupils Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto, both aged six, were buried, and other victims' funerals will be held throughout the week.

The town has been removing Christmas decorations in mourning.

The Sandy Hook gunman was named as Adam Lanza, who took his own life at the end of a killing spree that began with him shooting dead his own mother.

'Action needed'

On Monday Mr Obama met Vice President Joe Biden, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to discuss proposals aimed at reducing gun violence.

Mr Biden will be put in charge of the initiative, the Washington Post said quoting unnamed sources close to the government.

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I have covered stories for 15 years in the field, some of the biggest, and have never seen anything like this, nor felt so uncomfortable about being part of it”

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Earlier, White House spokesman Jay Carney said tighter gun control laws were part of the answer to violence in the US.

"It's a complex problem that will require a complex solution," Mr Carney said. "No single piece of legislation, no single action will fully address the problem."

He added that the president supported reinstating an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.

Correspondents say Democrats have been reluctant to pursue gun control legislation, but that there are signs that fear could be abating, with two pro-gun senators calling for changes.

Mark Warner and Joe Manchin, who have "A" ratings from the National Rifle Association (NRA), now say action is needed after the massacre.

West Virginia Senator Mr Manchin told US network MSNBC on Monday that it was time to "move beyond rhetoric".

Murder by firearms in 2011

Map of worst 10 states for firearms murder in 2011, by rate. DC 12.5, LOUISIANA 8.8, SOUTH CAROLINA 4.8, MARYLAND 4.7, MISSISSIPPI 4.6, MISSOURI 4.6, MICHIGAN 4.6, TENNESSEE 3.8, GEORGIA 3.8, ARKANSAS 3.7. For comparison: CONNECTICUT 2.6, USA 2.8

Rate per 100,000 people

Source: FBI Uniform Crime Reports

Mr Manchin, a gun owner and frequent hunter, said: "I don't know anyone in the sporting or hunting arena that goes out with an assault rifle."

Virginia Senator Mark Warner said that the "status quo isn't acceptable" and called for "rational gun control".

Mr Warner said he had been approached repeatedly over the weekend as people began to seek answers and solutions.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein, a long-time advocate for gun regulations, said on Sunday she would introduce assault weapons ban legislation in the beginning of the next congressional session.

On Sunday President Barack Obama told residents at a vigil in Newtown the US must do more to protect its children.

"We can't tolerate this any more," Mr Obama said. "These tragedies must end and to end them we must change."

Map showing Sandy Hook school and the location of the Lanza family home

More on This Story

US gun debate


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  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    "let access to fire arms be limited to only security forces"

    That's what Communist regime did in Soviet Unon, thus becoming free to kill many millions with total impunity. And so it has done in China.

    [one of the 1st things totalitarian regimes always do after taking over is to disarm populations to prevent any effective resistance to their rule]

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    201. David H
    Yes I think that they should. Whilst not perfect, (no system is) the UK gun laws promote a sensible and respectful attitute to gun ownership. Guns are available for sport and pest control, you must prove that you have secure storage, background checks are extensive and an interview is also required. You also cannot purchase assault weapons.

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    A shooting range is an appropriate place for a rifle or pistol.

    A farm is an appropriate place for a shotgun

    A battlefield is an appropriate place for an assault rifle or machine gun.

    A home is NOT an appropriate place for any of the above.

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    When obama reins in the murderous use of drones that kill scores of children throughout the middle east, only then will I take what he say's, and what the controlled media say seriously.

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    The line between reality and fantasy is defined only by your sanity.
    What possible reason could a civilian have, to own a fully automatic assault rifle??? Sick society desensitized to extreme violence by Hollywood and the Xbox 360. :-(

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    I'll copy/paste my comment from the other Newtown thing.....

    What bugs me about these shootings is the cover up that follows, they'll blame video games rather than admitting that the US has serious social/cultural issues, where it creates monsters by excluding "different" (freaks, as they call them) people from society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    Why the hell would anyone want an assault rifle? Just asking like..."

    For exactly that purpose - to "assault" something, normally something living.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    dont get me wrong america needs to look in to who can get a gun more, but its not the gun that kills people, its the person using the gun. and if that guy didnt have a gun he could've got a knife, so would that mean a tighter law on knifes. america needs to check people out better before giving them a gun, not check the gun!

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    1 Minute ago
    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
    "Bring me your huddled masses yearning to be free..."

    As long as they aren't Mexicans trying to get through the wall.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    Very hard to look at pro gun arguments without instantly thinking "you're all mad" It's a different culture. These attitudes are so alien but then I think, how would I feel if someone tried to take away something I'd legally been able to enjoy all my life? I'd hate it, I'd fight for my rights but at some point I would hope my common sense would kick in and it has to now for Americans, surely!

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    I can't imagine what situation in civillian life would require the use of an automatic weapon . I am well aware of the ideological arguements that many Americans put forward but the massacre of 26 children and many more over the years cannot be justified by these arguments anymore

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    Really, how complex is it? Nuts are getting guns in the US every day of the year, and every year several of them slaughter innocent people, often children. Start by banning private ownership of assault weapons...easy. Mr Obama, you're not running again, so who are you running from? You're supposed to be the "leader of the free world". So lead, for God's sake! Still too complex for you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    The most unfortunate thing is that those 20 young children were unlucky enough born into a society so mired in paranoia, corruption, self interest and stupidity and that even the sacrifice of their short lives on the altar of supposed "rights" will in all probability change nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    The US right to own a gun is antiquated. The US has one of the largest and sophisticated military machines in the world and NATO which states that any other country with in the alliance must assist that country.
    So the only reason to maintain freedom of owner ship of fire arms in the US today is from Martians, Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    Blaming illegal shooting on guns is like laying the blame for fat people at the door of cutlery. SSRI medication (anti-depressants) and idiotic parenting caused this massacre, just as it has done the overwhelming majority of gun massacres in the past.

    20% of the American public are on SSRI's, so banning guns now is like putting a sticking plaster on an amputated limb.

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    If the US had the UK gun laws, then there wouldnt have been guns in the Lanza house, he wouldnt have been taught how to use them & most likely wouldnt know how or where to get one.
    The 2nd Amendment was forged in the 1800's - 'Wild West Days'
    Very different to today.
    Churches are being told they need to modernise their old fashioned beliefs - Why should the gun laws be viewed any different???

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    The world's greatest 'democracy' has almost 10 000 gun murders a year. So democracy is the freedom to kill anyone, is it? That's nice. Well, my reading of the US Constitution (2nd Amendment) is that US citizens do not have the free right to bear firearms. Check it out, it's on the Internet. So, no need for a gun ban - just law enforcement. Otherwise scenes like this will repeated over and over.

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    NRA - 'Guns don't kill people, people do.'

    So what?.. since guns do not have a sentient life of their own, that is a logical fallacy

    Most 'postal' individuals have a medical record which should automatically prevent them from acquiring a gun licence in any sane legislature

    Any gun with semi / fully automatic capability is a military weapon designed for a specific purpose.. killing people

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.


    Shaunie Babes
    The deaths of a few children are a small price to pay for being able to defend your own property.

    Are you for real? Shame on you.

    I agree, but let's hope it is having the same affect on those gun toting heroes in the States as it is on us. Let's hope it is making them think about what has value. Real Freedom is to grow old and have grandchildren

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    Of course you dont get it - Americans may speak English but theyre not like us, they believe and worship the state and constitution. Obama will have a tough time, but not because of the gun lobby/NRA, he has to fight against an ingrained belief in things like gun ownership and self defence in the constitution they are brought up to worship from childhood


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