News / USA

Obama Faces Calls for Action After Connecticut Shootings

President Barack Obama pauses as he talks about the Connecticut elementary school shooting, in the White House briefing room in Washington, December 14, 2012.President Barack Obama pauses as he talks about the Connecticut elementary school shooting, in the White House briefing room in Washington, December 14, 2012.
x
President Barack Obama pauses as he talks about the Connecticut elementary school shooting, in the White House briefing room in Washington, December 14, 2012.
President Barack Obama pauses as he talks about the Connecticut elementary school shooting, in the White House briefing room in Washington, December 14, 2012.
Friday's mass shooting at an elementary school in the state of Connecticut - the second worst such incident in U.S. history - was the latest to occur during President Barack Obama's first term.

The entrance to a shopping center in Tucson, Arizona in 2011... a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colorado last July... and now, an elementary school filled with children in Newtown, Connecticut.

After each tragedy, Obama has offered words of comfort for families of those killed, and traveled to towns and cities to meet with and offer encouragement to survivors.

Emotional plea

A few hours after first receiving word of the shootings in Connecticut, Obama came to the White House briefing room to deliver a statement laden with emotion.

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.
Saying the nation has "endured too many of these tragedies," pausing twice and appearing near tears, he said the country must find a way to put an end to such violence.

"As a country we have been through this too many times, whether it is an elementary school in Newtown, or 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, and regardless of the politics," said Obama.

Mass shootings

Since Obama was elected in 2008, there have been at least 10 mass shooting incidents, including those he referenced in his statement.  

The Connecticut massacre was the second worst school shooting incident after 32 people were killed and 17 wounded at Virginia Tech in 2007.

After 13 people were killed last July by a gunman opening fire in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, the president urged Americans to reflect.

"I hope that over the next several days, next several weeks, and next several months, we all reflect on how we can do something about some of the senseless violence that ends up marring this country," he said.

In Tucson, Arizona, where a gunman took the lives of 6 people in 2011, and wounded 13, including a U.S. congresswoman, the president urged Americans not to allow that tragedy to intensify national divisions.

"We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of such violence in the future. But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other," said Obama.

Gun control issue

The latest incident thrusts questions about gun control in the United States back into the national discourse.

Strengthening gun control laws is one of the most difficult social and political issues in the United States. Powerful lobbying groups such as the National Rifle Association, anti-gun groups, members of Congress, and the president are in the middle of the debate.

Whether Obama, using added political leverage from his reelection, and national anger over the latest tragedy, can move the country forward in the gun control debate, remains to be seen.

After the president's remarks about the Connecticut shootings, gun control advocates gathered for a candlelight vigil outside the White House.

Michael McBride is a pastor from California. He said Obama should use his State of the Union address next year to chart a course on gun control.

"Please lay out a plan of action of how we may address this scourge of gun violence in our communities," said McBride.

Bill Meffords from Virginia brought his two sons to the demonstration. He said the Connecticut shootings present Obama with an opportunity to energize gun control efforts, but he has to move quickly.

"If he waits and allows what has happened time and time again, if he allows the focus to be placed on other things, or the distraction of talking heads like the NRA and everybody else to take us away from what really is important here and that is saving lives, if he moves now I think he can," said Meffords.

President Obama's spokesman, Jay Carney, avoided any statements on the overall gun control debate, saying it was not a time to "engage in the usual Washington policy debates."

But in response to one question, he said the president remains committed to a pledge he made to work to renew the federal ban on assault weapons that was allowed to lapse in 2004.

  • 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.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: NRA LIFE MEMBER
December 15, 2012 7:55 AM
It is not time to take the guns away from law abiding americans. It is time to arm the citizens and take action against those who plan on doing us harm!
In Response

by: Ian from: USA
December 16, 2012 8:52 PM
Slow down will you.
I do think that people should have the right to bear arms (legally), although I do not own a gun, nor do I want to.
But the suggestion " it is time to arm the citizens and take action..." sounds a little too rash here.
How do the so called "citizens" recognize the bad guys? is there a type of eyeglasses that buzzes when you see a perpetrator? and how do these nice citizens pop-in when & where these random event happens?
ssems your solution just triggers more free for all O.K. Corral here

by: Anonymous
December 15, 2012 6:23 AM
I agree with President Obama. School shootings happen too frequently in the US. We need to take action. I think school officials should be trained and allowed to carry guns in school to protect our kids. I have a 2-year old who goes to daycare and I don't know what I'll do if he doesn't come home to me one day. I grieve for the children and families directly affected by this tragedy.
In Response

by: Ian from: USA
December 16, 2012 9:01 PM
Actually our country gets into this messy situation more after the government cutting funds and closing the mental hospitals & institutions throwing all the mentally ills out on the streets..
I believe this is partially the result of that policy .

by: G. S. JOHAR from: Kanpur
December 15, 2012 5:04 AM
A man of cruelty is God’s enemy. Adam Lamza. is therefore an enemy of God. Hence, people all over the world must pray for the restlessness of the soul of the cruel killer who mercilessly killed so many lovely and innocent kids along with others Lamza’s soul must remain and cry in hell for ever…..for ever.


by: sved from: france
December 14, 2012 11:44 PM
I may be wrong, but isn't the congress supposed to be the one doing something about it? What can Obama do?
In Response

by: Ian from: USA
December 16, 2012 9:06 PM
I am glad that you see it clearer than most americans.
You know, in our country people blame the president for everything..
Sometimes we even vote for those congressmen & senators that go against the president that we put in the white house and wonder why he could not get anything passes..

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs