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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  • rate this

    Comment number 569.

    You know what? Everyone who says that removing guns from society won't stop people killing other people - you're right. Absolutely spot on.

    Thing is, it WILL stop it being so EASY.

    That's the tragedy here. A gun allows you to go on a spree and kill twenty children. Bit trickier to do that with a knife or something like that.

    Guns enable killers to be killers. Why do you think that's OK?

  • rate this

    Comment number 565.

    I agree that the USA needs strict gun control but to really think that incidents like this latest one will be less common if we had strict gun control is naive. It's estimated that there are as many as 300 million guns already out there. Good luck getting them back.

  • 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 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.


Comments 5 of 13


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