As “we grieve for the families of those we lost,” President Barack Obama said Saturday the nation must act to prevent the kind of gun attack that killed 26 people Friday at an elementary school in Connecticut – including 20 children.
“Any of these neighborhoods could be our own,” Obama said in his weekly radio address. “So we have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
Obama did not specify any proposed action, but a string of lawmakers have called for tighter gun-control laws in the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.
“Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough,” said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg after Obama made a similar statement on Friday. “We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress.”
In his radio address, Obama echoed many of the comments he made just hours after the shooting, a White House appearance in which he had to pause at times and fight back tears.
“Most of those who died were just young children with their whole lives ahead of them,” Obama told the broadcast audience. “And every parent in America has a heart heavy with hurt.”
The president said that families affected by the shooting “need all of us now. Because while nothing can take the place of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need – to remind them that we are there for them; that we are praying for them.”
The Republicans canceled their Saturday radio address in deference to the shooting, and “so that President Obama can speak for the entire nation at this time of mourning,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Boehner added: “I join the president – and all Americans – in sending prayers and condolences to the victims’ loved ones.”
The president’s radio address:
“On Friday, we learned that more than two dozen people were killed when a gunman opened fire in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
“Most of those who died were just young children with their whole lives ahead of them. And every parent in America has a heart heavy with hurt.
“Among the fallen were also teachers – men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.
“So our hearts are broken today. We grieve for the families of those we lost. And we keep in our prayers the parents of those who survived. Because as blessed as they are to have their children home, they know that their child’s innocence has been torn away far too early.
“As a nation, we have endured far too many of these tragedies in the last few years. An elementary school in Newtown. A shopping mall in Oregon. A house of worship in Wisconsin. A movie theater in Colorado. Countless street corners in places like Chicago and Philadelphia.
“Any of these neighborhoods could be our own. So we have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this. Regardless of the politics.
“This weekend, Michelle and I are doing what I know every parent is doing – holding our children as close as we can and reminding them how much we love them.
“There are families in Connecticut who can’t do that today. And they need all of us now. Because while nothing can take the place of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need – to remind them that we are there for them; that we are praying for them; and that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their own memories, but also in their community, and their country.