WHITE HOUSE – President Barack Obama has sent messages of condolence and sorrow to all Americans following the massacre in Colorado movie theater Friday that killed 12 people and wounded scores of others. The president says the killing is a reminder that life is fragile, limited and precious.
Flags atop the White House and other U.S. government buildings are flying at half-staff, to honor those killed in Friday’s rampage in the western city of Aurora, Colorado.
In his weekly address Saturday, President Obama reassured the American people that the government will do everything it can to bring the shooter to justice and ensure public safety.
Obama encouraged Americans to pray and reflect, and to remember that what matters in life is how people live and treat each other.
“Even as we come to learn how this happened and who is responsible, we may never understand what leads anyone to terrorize their fellow human beings," the president said. "Such evil is senseless, beyond reason. But while we will never know fully what causes someone to take the life of another, we do know what makes life worth living.”
The president spoke in personal terms, saying the incident reminded him of his love for his two daughters.
“Michelle and I will be fortunate enough to hug our girls a little tighter this weekend, as I am sure you will do with your children. But for those parents who may not be so fortunate, we need to embrace them and let them know we will be there for them as a nation,” Obama said.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, said he joins President Obama in sending condolences to the families of those killed and wounded. He also commended the rescue workers, doctors and nurses who tended to the victims.
“Words cannot capture the horror or make sense of something so senseless, so I will not try," Boehner said. "This much I know: I know that when confronted with evil we cannot comprehend, Americans pull together and embrace our national family more tightly.”
Shortly after the killings, James Holmes, 24, was arrested in the theater parking lot.
Since the shootings, there has been debate about the need for stronger gun laws.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right of citizens to bear arms.
After Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot and wounded at a public appearance in January, 2011, the president called for a three-step plan to more tightly restrict the distribution of guns.
He proposed enforcing existing laws, rewarding states that furnish the best information about gun owners, and improving procedures for checking the background of those who want to buy guns.
In his 2008 election campaign, Obama supported a plan to restore a ban on assault weapons, but he has not proposed legislation to do so.
Photo Gallery: Aurora, Colorado Shooting Aftermath
Judy Goos, second from left, hugs her daughter's friend, Isaiah Bow, 20, while eye witnesses Emma Goos, 19, left, and Terrell Wallin, 20, right, gather outside Gateway High School where witnesses were brought for questioning July 20, 2012 in Denver.
Jacob Stevens, 18, hugs his mother Tammi Stevens after being interviewed by police outside Gateway High School where witnesses were brought for questioning after a shooting at a movie theater, in Denver, Colorado, July 20, 2012.
Shamecca Davis hugs her son, Isaiah Bow, who was an eye witness to the shooting, outside Gateway High School where witnesses were brought for questioning in Denver, Colorado, July 20, 2012.
Police outside of Century 16 movie theater where as many as 14 people were killed and many injured at a shooting during the showing of the movie "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colorado July 20, 2012.
An Aurora Police officer talks on his radio outside of the Century 16 theater at Aurora Mall where as many as 14 people were killed and many injured at a shooting at the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado, July 20, 2012.
Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates talks to media at Aurora Mall where as many as 14 people were killed and many injured at a shooting at the Century 16 movie theater, July 20, 2012.
A SWAT team officer stands watch near an apartment house where the suspect in a shooting at a movie theatre lived in Aurora, Colorado, July 20, 2012.