NEWTOWN, Conn. — He spoke for a nation in sorrow, but the slaughter of all those little boys and girls turned the commander in chief into another parent in grief, searching for answers. Alone on a spare stage after the worst day of his tenure, President Barack Obama declared Sunday he will use "whatever power" he has to prevent shootings like the Connecticut school massacre.
"What choice do we have?" Obama said at an evening vigil in the shattered community of Newtown, Conn. "Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage, 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?"
For Obama, that was an unmistakable sign that he would at least attempt to take on the explosive issue of gun control. He made clear that the deaths compelled the nation to act, and that he was the leader of a nation that was failing to keep its children safe. He spoke of a broader effort, never outlining exactly what he would push for, but outraged by another shooting rampage.
"Surely we can do better than this," he said. "We have an obligation to try."
The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday elicited horror around the world, soul-searching in the United States, fresh political debate and questions about the incomprehensible — what drove the 20-year-old suspect to kill his mother and then unleash gunfire on children.
A total of 6 adults and 20 boys and girls ages 6 and 7 were slaughtered.
Obama read the names of the adults near the top his remarks. He finished by reading the first names of the kids, slowly, in the most wrenching moment of the night.