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 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 13.

    The right to bear arms was written in a time of muskets and when the US had no real standing army to defend itself.. I don't think in an age of stealth fighters, fighter drones and aircraft carriers banning semi automatic weapons would really infringe on anyones freedom. Lets get real here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    The Republican movement in the USA is a malignant growth on the body politic.The idea that dozens of children not to mention their carers should be slaughtered as sacrificeson the altar of so called personal freedoms is as grotesque as their belief that medi care should only be available to those who are lucky enough to afford it. Republicanism is a disgusting anachronistic movement in America.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    It must be abundantly clear that the framers of The Constitution could have never envisaged the weapons that are available to private citizens today. The muzzle velocities, the ammunition available and the rate of fire make for weapons that belong only on a battlefield. Assault weapons have no place in private ownership, they have only one purpose and it's not self defense or hunting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    A gun is much more dangerous than or any other handheld weapon that is easily obtainable. You can't easily kill someone with a knife at twenty feet but you can with a gun. If the teachers in the school had been trying to disarm a young man with a knife they probably would have succeeded. With a gun they had no chance. Move away from your 18th Century mindset America and give your kids a chance.


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