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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

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These tragedies must end - Obama

US: President Barack Obama vowed Sunday to use all his power to stop gun massacres like the slaughter of 20 little children at a Connecticut school, saying “these tragedies must end.” Obama vented passion and anger as he told the grief-stricken community of Newtown, reeling from the unspeakable horror of Friday's rampage, that he was consoling victims of the fourth mass shooting of his presidency.

“Can we say that we're truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?” he implored, as 26 candles burned by his podium to remember the victims.

“I've been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we're honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We are not doing enough, and we will have to change.” Obama's remarks, though impassioned and appearing to set a new mission for his presidency of curtailing rampant gun violence, did not propose specific solutions, in keeping with the somber tone of the apolitical vigil service.

Heartrending sobs broke the silence as Obama slowly read the names of the six heroic adults who died trying to protect their innocent charges as gunman Adam Lanza, 20, unleashed terror with a military-style assault rifle.

The president also read the names of the children, all aged six or seven, whose lives were taken, in an incredibly poignant moment. “Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeline, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Benjamin, Avielle, Allison, God has called them all home....” “They lost their lives in a school that could have been any school, in a quiet town full of good and decent people that could be any town in America,” Obama said.

“We can't tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end, and to end them we must change,” the newly re-elected president added, implicitly rebuking those who argue that efforts to introduce more gun control laws would do little to stop killings.

Obama promised to use “whatever power this office holds” to try to prevent more tragedies like the one that struck Newtown, appearing to set up a new political battle with America's powerful gun lobby with the potential to define his second term.

“Because what choice do we have? We can't accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we are powerless in the face of such carnage?” Obama will face the tough task of manipulating Washington's stalemated politics to enforce change, against entrenched interests and under a constitution that enshrines gun rights.

On several occasions, for instance with his vows to close the Guantanamo Bay war on terror camp, or to transform US relations with the Muslim world, Obama has set high stakes with rhetoric only to find the stated goal impossible to achieve.

Earlier, the voices of Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith leaders united in grief at the multi-denominational prayer service, as mourners grasped for meaning amid unbearable loss.

AFP

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