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March 3, 2015

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shooting in newtown:

Obama says nation must act to keep its children safe


Associated Press

President Barack Obama speaks Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, during an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Updated Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 | 6:30 p.m.

Connecticut state police release names of victims

  • Charlotte Bacon, 6
  • Daniel Barden, 7
  • Rachel DaVino, 29
  • Olivia Engel, 6
  • Josephine Gay, 7
  • Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
  • Dylan Hockley, 6
  • Dawn Hocksprung, 47
  • Madeleine Hsu, 6
  • Catherine Hubbard, 6
  • Chase Kowalski, 7
  • Jesse Lewis, 6
  • James Mattioli, 6
  • Grace McDonnell, 7
  • Anne Marie Murphy, 52
  • Emilie Parker, 6
  • Jack Pinto, 6
  • Noah Pozner, 6
  • Caroline Previdi, 6
  • Jessica Rekos, 6
  • Avielle Richman, 6
  • Lauren Russeau, 30
  • Mary Sherlach, 56
  • Victoria Soto, 27
  • Benjamin Wheeler, 6
  • Allison N. Wyatt, 6
  • -- From the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection website

    Connecticut Elementary School Shooting

    David Freedman, right, kneels with his son Zachary, 9, both of Newtown, Conn., as they visit a sidewalk memorial for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. Launch slideshow »

    NEWTOWN, Conn. — He spoke for a nation in sorrow, but the slaughter of all those little boys and girls left President Barack Obama, like so many others, reaching for words. Alone on a spare stage after the worst single day of his presidency, the commander in chief was a parent in grief.

    "I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depth of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts," Obama said at an evening vigil in the grieving community of Newtown, Conn. "I can only hope that it helps for you to know that you are not alone in your grief."

    The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday elicited horror around the world, soul-searching in the United States, fresh political debate about gun control and questions about the incomprehensible — what drove the suspect to act.

    It also left a newly re-elected president openly grappling for bigger answers. Obama said that in the coming weeks, he would use "whatever power this office holds" to engage with law enforcement, mental health professionals, parents and educators in an effort to prevent more tragedies like Newtown.

    "Can say that we're truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose? I've been reflecting on this the last few days," Obama said, somber and steady as some in the audience wept.

    "If we're honest without ourselves, the answer is no. And we will have to change."

    He promised to lead a national effort, but left unclear was what it would be, and how much it would address the explosive issue of gun control.

    "What choice do we have?" Obama said. "Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?"

    For Obama, ending his fourth year in office, it was another sorrowful visit to another community in disbelief. It is the job of the president to be there, to listen and console, to offer help even when the only thing within his grasp is a hug.

    All the victims were killed up close by multiple rifle shots.

    The toll: six adults. Twenty boys and girls, all of whom were just 6 or 7 years old.

    Inside the vigil 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.

    The president first met privately with families of the victims and with the emergency personnel who responded to the shootings. That meeting happened at Newtown High School, the site of Sunday night's interfaith vigil, about a mile and a half from where the shootings took place.

    "We're halfway between grief and hope," said Curt Brantl, whose fourth-grade 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 need to be together here in this room. ... 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 on Friday called for leaders to agree on "meaningful action" to prevent killings.

    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 shot 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.

    The tragedy plunged the picturesque New England town of 27,000 people into mourning.

    "I know that Newtown will prevail, that we will not fall to acts of violence," said First Selectwoman Patricia Llodra. "It is a defining moment for our town, but it does not define us."

    A White House official said Obama mainly wrote the speech himself. He worked with presidential speechwriter Cody Keenan, who helped Obama write his speech last year after shootings in Tucson, Ariz., left six dead and 13 wounded, including Rep. Gabby Giffords.

    Just this past summer, Obama went to Aurora, Colo., to visit victims and families after a shooting spree at a movie theater in the Denver suburb left 12 dead.

    In November 2009, Obama traveled to Fort Hood, Texas, to speak at the memorial service for 13 service members who were killed on the post by another soldier.

    After the Colorado shooting in July, the White House made clear that Obama would not propose new gun restrictions in an election year and said he favored better enforcement of existing laws.

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    1. Hold that pose while I get my camera...

    2. teamster says "I say that we need to BAN ALL ASSULT RIFLES, PERIOD."

      And what outcome do you expect from that? If an assault weapon ban was an effective tool we should have seen a decrease in gun crime after the ban went into effect previously and an increase after it expired. But that isn't what happened. Statistically the assault weapon ban had no effect whatsoever on gun crime in the US.

      So if it had no effect last time, what outcome are you expecting this time?

    3. Q. How about reinstating the assault weapon ban?
      A. If the assault weapon ban had been an effective tool, there should have been a decrease in gun crime after it went into effect and an increase in gun crime after it expired. This not what happened, so we can say that the assault weapon ban was not an effective tool.

      Q. But countries with strict gun control laws like the UK have lower rates of gun crime. Why don't we emulate them?
      A. The UK had lower rates of gun crime than the US before the ban on handguns. The data shows that the rate of violent crime and gun crime have INCREASED in the UK since gun ownership was restricted.

      Q. But wouldn't banning these types of weapons at least prevent tragedies like this one?
      A. No. Norway has stricter gun control laws than all of the ones being proposed here. In July 2011 it also saw 77 people massacred by an armed lunatic on a rampage.

      Q. But what about the jurisdictions in the US that saw the light and passed strict gun control laws in response to their growing violent crime and gun crime rates?
      A. Pretty much all of them have failed to see any reduction in those areas as a result of the new laws. Massachusetts, for example, saw serious increases in all violent crime categories, including gun crime, since passage of strict gun control laws.

      Q. But there are way too many guns. If we reduce the number of guns we will at least reduce the number of gun crimes, right?
      A. The FBI data on gun crime rates going back over the last 100 years do not show any correlation at all between the number of guns int he US and the number of gun crimes or per capita rates of gun crime.

      So I would ask that anyone insisting that we need stricter gun control laws or bans on some or all guns at least look at what has been tried in the past that DIDN'T work and make sure they are proposing something different. Bans on assault weapons, bans on handguns, strict licensing requirements, background checks, and limits on number of guns or amount of ammunition have all been tried....and failed.

    4. Joe, the less on would be that there are no easy, quick-fix answers to the problem.

      The answer to far reaching societal problems is almost never "just pass a quick law"