News / USA

Obama: 'Our Hearts Are Broken Today'

President Barack Obama wipes his eye as he speaks about the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, in the briefing room of the White House.
President Barack Obama wipes his eye as he speaks about the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, in the briefing room of the White House.
Kent Klein
U.S. President Barack Obama wiped away tears Friday, as he offered government support and emotional support to the families of those killed in a mass shooting in a school in Connecticut.  Obama said he was reacting as a parent, not a president.

As the father of two daughters, the president said “our hearts are broken,” and he spoke of parents across the country hugging their children tighter tonight.

“We have endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years.  And each time I learned the news, I react not as a president, but as anybody else would, as a parent,” he said. "And that was especially true today.  I know there is not a parent in America who does not feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.  The majority of those who died today were children - beautiful little kids between the ages of five and 10 years old.”

  • A boy is comforted outside Sandy Hook Elementary School after a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, December 14, 2012.
  • A police officer keeps guard from a hill top over looking Sandy Hook Elementary School. At least 20 people, including children, were killed on Friday when a shooter opened fire.
  • Parents leave a staging area after being reunited with their children following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
  • This satellite image provided by Google shows the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
  • A woman waits to hear about her sister, a teacher, following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
  • The scene at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, December 14, 2012.
  • White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that President Barack Obama is receiving updates on the situation in Connecticut during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington.
  • Family members embrace each other outside Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Mass killings, like Friday's schoolhouse slaughter in Connecticut, have become a troubling and recurring fact of life in the United States.

Other recent mass shootings include:

*  August 2012:  An Army veteran kills five men and a woman at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

*  July 2012:  A  student opens fire at a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie at a Colorado theater, killing 12.

*  January 2011: U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 18 other people are shot outside a supermarket in Arizona.

*  November 2009:  An Army psychiatrist kills 13 soldiers and civilians on the Fort Hood Army base in Texas.

*  April 2007:  A students kills 32 people on the campus of a large university, Virginia Tech.

*  April 1999: Two students at a Colorado high school kill 12 classmates and a teacher.

The Mother Jones magazine says that since 1982, there have been at least 61 mass murders in the U.S., which U.S. authorities define as an assault in which a gunman kills four or more people, typically in a single location.
The president spoke several hours after children and adults were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Obama paused several times during his short statement and struggled to keep his composure when he described the victims.

“They had their entire lives ahead of them - birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own,” he said.  "Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.”

This is at least the 10th mass shooting in the United States since Obama took office in January 2009, with several taking place in previous years.

The president mentioned several of the incidents, including the killings of three people at a shopping mall in the northwestern state of Oregon just three days earlier.  

He said something must be done to stop further violence in public places.

“These neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children," he said. "And we are going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”

Obama did not discuss specific steps that might be taken.  Social media in the United States were full of demands Friday for tougher gun control legislation.

Earlier in the day, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president remains committed to renewing the federal ban on assault weapons, which lapsed in 2004.

Out of respect for the shooting victims, Obama has ordered the flag atop the White House flown at half-staff, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, has done the same at the U.S. Capitol.

Speaker Boehner has released a written statement, calling on Americans to “lock arms and unite as citizens…to rise above unspeakable evil.”

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More