Obama: These tragedies must end
17 December 2012, 09:29
Newtown - President Barack Obama vowed on Sunday to use all his power to stop gun massacres like the slaughter of 20 little children at a Connecticut school, saying "these tragedies must end".
Obama vented passion and anger as he told the grief-stricken community of Newtown, reeling from the unspeakable horror of Friday's rampage, that he was consoling victims of the fourth mass shooting of his presidency.
"Can we 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?" he said, as 26 candles burned by his podium to remember the victims.
"I've been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we're honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We are not doing enough, and we will have to change."
Obama's remarks, though impassioned and appearing to set a new mission for his presidency of curtailing rampant gun violence, did not propose specific solutions, in keeping with the sombre tone of the apolitical vigil service.
Heartrending sobs broke the silence as Obama slowly read the names of six heroic adults who died trying to protect their innocent charges as gunman Adam Lanza, 20, unleashed terror with a military-style assault rifle.
"Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeline, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Benjamin, Avielle, Allison, God has called them all home....
"We can't tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end, and to end them we must change," Obama said, implicitly rebuking those who argue that efforts to introduce more gun control laws would do little to stop killings.
"Surely, we can do better than this," the newly re-elected president said, appearing to set up a new political battle with America's powerful gun lobby with the potential to define his second term.
Obama promised to use "whatever power this office holds" to engage Americans, law enforcement and health professionals to try to prevent more tragedies like the one that struck Newtown.
"Because what choice do we have? We can't accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we are powerless in the face of such carnage?"