Obama signals action following school shooting
by Jim Kuhnhenn, Associated Press and Julie Pace, Associated Press
December 17, 2012 09:03 AM | 1297 views | 9 9 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
President Barack Obama walks off stage after delivering a speech at an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama walks off stage after delivering a speech at an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is vowing to use "whatever power this office holds" to safeguard the nation's children, raising the prospect that he will pursue policy changes to stem gun violence in the wake of an elementary school massacre.

"Because what choice do we have?" a somber Obama said at a Sunday evening vigil in the grieving community of Newtown, Conn. "We can't accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard?"

The newly re-elected president offered few specifics about how he planned to proceed, saying only that he will engage with law enforcement, mental health professionals, parents and educators in the coming weeks. Just days after the shooting at an elementary school, Obama is already facing pressure from fellow Democrats and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to tackle gun control legislation, a contentious issue he avoided as he sought a second term.

But Friday's shooting, which left 20 children and eight adults dead, appears to have spurred some soul-searching by Obama, who told Connecticut's governor that Friday was the most difficult day of his presidency. Speaking to families of the victims and first responders, Obama said Sunday that he had been reflecting on whether the country was doing enough to give its children "the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose."

"And if we're honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We're not doing enough, and we will have to change," Obama said.

Sunday marked the fourth time in Obama's presidency that he has traveled to a community shaken by a mass shooting. Just this summer, he made a similar visit to Aurora, Colo., where a dozen people were killed in a movie theater attack.

Drawing on his past experiences, Obama said he was mindful that mere words would not be enough to heal the depths of Newtown's sorrow.

"I can only hope that it helps for you to know that you are not alone in your grief," Obama said during the vigil, which followed his private meeting with families of the victims.

The president closed his remarks by reading the first names of the kids, slowly, in the most wrenching moment of the night. Cries and sobs filled the room.

Said Obama of the girls and boys who died: "God has called them all home. For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on and make our country worthy of their memory."

Inside the room, children held stuffed teddy bears and dogs. The smallest kids sat on their parents' laps.

There were tears and hugs, but also smiles and squeezed arms. Mixed with disbelief was a sense of a community reacquainting itself all at once.

One man said it was less mournful, more familial. Some kids chatted easily with their friends. The adults embraced each other in support.

"We're halfway between grief and hope," said Curt Brantl, whose daughter was in the library of the elementary school when the shootings occurred. She was not harmed.

Police and firefighters got hugs and standing ovations when they entered. So did Obama.

"We needed this," said the Rev. Matt Crebbin, senior minister of the Newtown Congregational Church. "We needed to be together to show that we are together and united."

The shootings have restarted a debate in Washington about what politicians can to do help — gun control or otherwise. Obama has called for "meaningful action" to prevent killings.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Sunday she will introduce legislation next year to ban new assault weapons, as well as big clips, drums and strips of more than 10 bullets.

Police say the gunman, Adam Lanza, was carrying an arsenal of ammunition big enough to kill just about every student in the school if given enough time. He massacred 20 students and six teachers and administrators before shooting himself in the head just as he heard police drawing near, authorities said.

A Connecticut official said the gunman's mother was found dead in her pajamas in bed, shot four times in the head with a.22-caliber rifle. The killer then went to the school with guns he took from his mother and began blasting his way through the building.

"There is no blame to be laid on us but there is a great burden and a great challenge that we emerge whole," First Select Woman Patricia Llodra said. "It is a defining moment for our town, but it does not define us."


AP White House Correspondent Ben Feller contributed to this report.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
December 17, 2012
Laws to keep guns off the streets only affect those who obey the laws...

Maybe we should stop trying to control guns and start to take back control of our children. I don't remember many mass shootings back when kids were spanked by their parents and their teachers. I hate to sound so "old school" when I say this but I have to wonder what happens to the mind of a 12 year old kid I see them playing Call Of Duty and Halo. Games that almost glorify war, shooting, weapons when the real thing is nothing like it. I enjoy both games, but I am old enough to realize it is just a game and that the real life version isn't cool or fun, but is a child able to figure that out? There is a reason for the rating label on video games and movies.
Law Officer
December 17, 2012
Criminals are criminals because they do not obey the laws, you can pass all the laws you want to, to control gun ownership but the criminals will still obtain guns. John Dillinger raided police stations; Clyde Barrow burglarized National Guard Armories. If someone has any intention to commit a crime or any acts of violence, they will still do so. The best thing a person can do is to be prepared to defend themselves or defend others and to take action when necessary. I am a law enforcement officer with nearly 25 years’ experience and I had dealt with criminals for years and as a law enforcement officer I know that a law officer do not response to a call until after a crime had been committed. Law enforcement is reactionary.
December 18, 2012
Bloomberg calls for gun control how many armed guards does he have and is he going to get to the bottom of Fast and Furious since he so interested in illegal guns. How much money do New Yorkers spend on cops for Bloomberg and how big of private security does he have? Just food for thought.
December 17, 2012
All the liberals are calling for gun control only a few are calling for crazy people control, if they didn’t have access to guns I’m sure they wouldn’t be smart enough to use I.E.D’s as the people in Iraq and Afghanistan do. Seems we lose a lot of our young soldiers to people that don’t have guns. Had a shotgun been in that principal’s office they could have killed this nut. Ten minutes is a long time to wait; this was a gamer anti social person, you see them all the time at the resultant they head buried in a game boy practicing to kill people on the game boy or smart phone. This might be their ticket to 15 minutes of fame and get national recognition no Lack of God and liberal policies have created this along with the social media or anti social media. Now the state controlled media will disarm America and the criminals’ will run all of America not just L.A. Ney York and Chicago. What has Obama done for Chicago are kids safe their what about Oklahoma City that was a bombing 168 adults and 19 children; you can still buy fertilizer and diesel fuel but that wouldn’t fit the gun control argument would it?
Lib in Cobb
December 17, 2012
No matter your politics, no matter if you love or hate President Obama, please take 18 minutes and listen to his words of last night at the Newtown, CT memorial service.
D.G. in Clarkdale
December 17, 2012
Honestly who is Obama to determine how things should change. We've seen the ruin progressive/liberal social engineering has wrought on traditional morals and values in society, they are the last ones to trust. The liberal/ progressives in Hollywood scream gun control, yet continue to spew out ever increasing levels of violence in films and TV. We see how the progressive/liberal news media twists issues to support failed social policies and practices, never assessing in an honest, open, ethical manner their own failures and responsibilities in seeking truth. We've seen how progressives/ liberals scream "we must protect the children" yet allow a holocaust in the killing of the most defenseless of us all, the unborn child. We've seen policies put in place to release onto our streets the mentally ill, yet increase funding for anything that pushes their own twisted healthcare(sic)agenda. Is it OK for presidents to secretly have individuals killed and in the process kill innocents(collateral damage) as part of national security(sic), by the most cowardly of means, aerial drones? This liberal/progressive mindset about choosing who lives and who dies ,who wins and who looses is truly disgusting. Let me also say that this isn't just an issue with the current executive, legislative, and judicial branches, its an indictment that extends to the failed leadership you've been electing for the last 50 years. This nation must return to our moral, ethical, religious roots otherwise things will get "progressive-ly" worse and we'll have no one to blame but ourselves for choosing such inept and flawed leadership. Let me also stress YOU have a responsibility to stay engaged with your family and community beyond birthdays, holidays and special occasions. You are the first line of defense in dealing with those among us who exhibit troublesome behavior using good old common sense. Family is the first to sense something is wrong with loved ones and truth be told you should be held responsible if you fail in your responsibility to intervene. Lord knows that the mother of that mentally unstable young man who perpetrated this latest heinous act of violence failed hers and doing so, failed those 20 children.
About Time
December 17, 2012
Thank goodness we finally have a leader who is willing to have the intestinal fortitude to take some of these guns off of our violent streets. Our wild west mentality is completely out of hand and innocents are being murdered because of it.
not good
December 17, 2012
We have a sorry leader who is if not the anti christ is leading up to the anti christ. to "about time" if the teacher had a gun this could have been stopped at the door!!!!!!!!!
JR in Mableton
December 17, 2012
It will be so safe when we are disarmed.....just like Central America!!
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