Obama in Newtown: ‘We can’t tolerate this anymore’
President Barack Obama assured the grieving, shell-shocked Newtown community on Sunday that "you are not alone" and vowed sternly to wield "whatever power this office holds" in a quest to prevent future mass shootings.
"We can't tolerate this anymore," Obama said from behind a podium on the stage of a Newton High School auditorium, as adults wept, or hugged, or sat quietly, many hugging small children. "These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change."
"In the coming weeks, I'll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens -- from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents, and educators -- in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have?"he said.
The speech, broadcast nationwide, offered the bold suggestion that Obama might engage lawmakers on the subject of gun control -- a topic that has not been among his top priorities during his presidency.
"We can't accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage?" Obama said. That the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year, after year, after year is somehow the price of our freedom?"
There were sobs from the crowd as the president read the first names of the 20 children slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday and paid tribute to the six adults who died defending them. Twenty-six candles in twenty-six shining glass vases shone from the base of the podium.
Obama anticipated — and dismissed — some of the time-honored arguments against stricter restrictions on guns.
Obama in Newtown: