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

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US gun debate


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  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    Alot of comments about knives, baseball bats, big sticks etc - It's not a good comparison as it is far easier to go on a rampage if you've got a gun and far harder to stop it once it's started.

    A gun make's it easy to kill people - just point it and pull the trigger - a bit like playing a computer game (which no doubt influence the people doing this)

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    As a Police Officer in London I have been shot at and witnessed the death of a close friend and colleague in a shooting incident.

    If members of the public as well as the criminal perpetrators of this act had been armed it wouldn't have prevented Her death but quite possibly would have ended up with more people being killed.

    Firearms in the hands of the public do not make them safer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 300. guy
    And once more time the hard of thinking:-
    The Simple Solution is : BAN THE GUN
    If everyone agrees then we have no problem... guns are banned!"

    Ok, and for the soft of thinking... what happens when not everyone agrees? when gun owners and influential groups have their say, what then? Do you even know anything about the USA? primary school kids could make a better argument

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    Complex indeed but something has to be done. The USA is a 'violence and righteous' society, hollywood, tv, the media, super heroes, apprehending bad guys. You see people killed by guns every day on tv. Yet Americans are just like anyone else when it comes to family values and peace, maybe moreso than the UK. It's access to lethal weapons that makes America different, it's just a shopping trip

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.


    Yeah, freedom to take out a bunch of 6 and 7 year olds. That's your idea of freedom!

    Yours sincerely,
    One of the "boot licking supplicants".

    PS. Need some cream for that red neck?

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    The basic question is this although many people will not like it being asked in this way...
    Do you care more about the lives of children and the innocent or more about the right to own AUTOMATIC weapons?

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

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

    I fail to see what is "complex" about it - apart, that is, from Obama etc. fearing that the necessary and really effective measures to prevent another similar disaster will lose votes. But then this is the 'land of the gun' . . . . so nothing can ever change on this issue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    '"Did Franklin have in mind the massacre of children as part of "essential Liberty"?
    Don't be dishonest - nobody, anywhere is suggesting that killing children is, or should be, legal"'

    What I meant was the price that societies pay for their freedoms. Would Franklin have regarded such massacres as a price to high to pay for the right to bear (modern) arms?

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    Are people only interested in US children being murdered?

    14th Dec, 22 more children injured, 20 killed over recent years

    If somebody who is deranged/mentaly ill wants to kill anybody
    they will find a means to do it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    One fact about guns in the USA I found quite disturbing yesterday is that for every one McDonalds there are 9 gun shops. There are also an estimated 300 million guns amongst its population.

    With those stats, how America can ever hope to stop gun massacres just seems impossible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.


    Guns don't kill people Americans with guns kill people. They kill proportionally 72.5 times as many people as us with guns. As it has nothing to do with the gun Americans must be "murderous" "evil" people and really shouldn't be allowed into the UK or anywhere else. Or is it to dow ith the availability of the guns?

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    School shootings are as regular as Thankgiving in America. For the NRA and co the murder of lots of innocent children is deemed acceptable so that everyone can own guns.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    300,000,000 guns in private hands in the USA... i think pandoras box is well and truly open

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    You can claim that banning guns will only make people either get them illegally, or search for other methods of killing, but at the end of the day you're removing what is, in essence, a weapon used to kill. Of course, many Americans seem to have a sense of entitlement when it comes to guns - because their archaic constitution says so, they should be allowed to have guns. When will people learn?

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    A rifle, shotgun, assault rifle, none of those weapons kill anyone it's the person who wields the weapon that kills, tighter gun control doesn't reduce the amount of weapons in criminal hands, if you're intent on harm you'll use whatever weapon you can get your hands on, the real challenge is identifying the type of people who commit these awful crimes against humanity. and that isn't easy

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    How about banning baseball bats often used to kill people?.

    Would make sense, wouldn't it?

    But "first [to paraphrase the Bard] let's kill all the drunk drivers".

    And ban cars.

    [car being by far the deadliest weapon in peace times]

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    Folk in the pro-gun lobby talk about the call for greater gun control as somehow restricting personal freedom....what about the freedom of school children in the US to go to school free of fear that they are going to be shot multiple times by some madman with a high-powered assault rifle?
    Which is the greater priority - the freedom to bear arms or the freedom to be peacefully educated ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    # 253.DynamicEntrance

    the foreign hordes descending on the US to tut and wag their finger and inform Americans on how they SHOULD run their affairs is even more immoral...

    All the time America claims leadership of the world (i.e. all of us foreign hordes) continues to interfere in our countries and tries to impose its laws on us then expect us to continue to express our opinions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    The right to bear arms was written in a time of muskets and when the US had no real standing army to defend itself.
    No no no
    Wrong wrong wrong

    The constitution was written to stop a government, ANY government, from taking away the Freedoms and Liberties of the Colonists

    Looking at our own lack of freedom in Britain compared with things like freedom of speech in the USA

    They did a good job

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    What British people don't get here is the concept of freedom. They don't understand because they have never been free as they bow down to the royal family who they seem to think are genetically superior or the aristocracy that makes it's laws. In a free country you are not held responsible for the actions of others only for your own. Americans are free unlike the boot licking supplicants here.


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