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.
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

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs