US President Barack Obama wipes a tear as he speaks about
the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown,
Connecticut. REUTERS/Larry Downing
A tearful President Barack Obama expressed "overwhelming
grief" for the victims of a shooting rampage at a Connecticut
elementary school and called on Americans to set aside politics
and take "meaningful action" to prevent further tragedies of
"We've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few
years," Obama said, his voice cracking with emotion at times
during a nationally televised appearance in the White House
briefing room just hours after one of the worst shooting
rampages in US history.
Obama deplored as a "heinous crime" the attack by a heavily
armed gunman at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed
28 people, including 20 children. The shooter is dead, police
"Our hearts are broken today, for the parents, and
grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children
and for the families of the adults who were lost," Obama
"Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as
well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home
tonight, they know that their children's innocence has been
torn away from them too early and there are no words that
will ease their pain," he said.
Obama said the United States had "been through this too many
times," but while urging Americans to unite in grief, he
stopped short of specifically calling for tougher gun-control
"Whether it's an elementary school in Newtown, a shopping
mall in Oregon or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater
in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago, these neighborhoods
are our neighborhoods and these children are our children,"
"And we're going to have to come together and take meaningful
action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the
Talk of reining in America's gun culture is considered
politically risky, and Obama avoided making such direct calls
during his successful run for re-election this year.
Obama, who has two young daughters, looked grim when he
entered the briefing room, and he paused and blinked hard
after mentioning the ages of the dead children - from 5 to
"I know there's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the
same overwhelming grief that I do," he said.
Obama raised a finger and dabbed at the corner of his eye on
several occasions. While speaking, he set his jaw several
times. At the end of his statement, there was a tear visible
below his left eye and that side of his face was slightly
Obama has issued public statements before in the aftermath of
Following the killing of six people at a Sikh temple in
Wisconsin in early August, Obama said such incidents should
prompt soul-searching by all Americans.
But when asked whether he would push for further gun-control
measures in the wake of the shootings, Obama said at the time
only that he wanted to bring together leaders at all levels
of American society to examine ways to curb gun violence.