Political Musings December 15, 2013: Obama honors Newtown victims a year later, renews gun control push

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama honors Newtown victims a year later, renews gun control push

By Bonnie K. Goodman

On the one year anniversary of the mass school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 President Barack Obama and the nation remembered the 26 victims of the second worse mass school shooting….READ MORE
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Political Headlines April 9, 2013: Clock Ticking on Gun Control Debate Amid Threat of Filibuster

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Clock Ticking on Gun Control Debate Amid Threat of Filibuster

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-9-13

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

With a filibuster threat in the air, the gun control debate takes a personal turn Tuesday on Capitol Hill as the families of the Newtown, Conn., shooting implore members of Congress to revive legislation that has stalled nearly four months after the slaying at Sandy Hook Elementary School….

“Find out where your member of Congress stands on this,” Obama said.  “If they’re not part of the 90 percent of Americans who agree on background checks, then ask them why not.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines April 8, 2013: President Barack Obama in Speech at the University of Hartford Demands Gun Control Vote

Obama, with Newtown Families, Demands Gun Control Vote

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-8-13

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Speaking before families of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre, President Obama made an impassioned and urgent plea for stricter gun laws, as he accused Republicans of threatening to use “political stunts” to block reforms.

“This is not about politics. This is about doing the right thing for all the families who are here that have been torn apart by gun violence,” the president told a packed crowd at the University of Hartford, just 50 miles from the site of the December shooting in Newtown, Conn. “It’s about them, and all the families going forward so we can prevent this from happening again. That’s what it’s about.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency April 8, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Reducing Gun Violence at the University of Hartford, Connecticut — Pushes for Gun Control Bill

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Asks Americans to Stand Up and Call for Action to Reduce Gun Violence

Source: WH, 4-8-13

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on gun violencePresident Barack Obama delivers remarks on gun violence, at the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Conn., April 8, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Today President Obama traveled to Connecticut, where he told families of the children and teachers who died at Sandy Hook Elementary that we have not forgotten our promise to help prevent future tragedies and reduce gun violence in our country….READ MORE

Remarks by the President on Reducing Gun Violence — Hartford, CT

Source: WH, 4-8-13

University of Hartford
Hartford, Connecticut

5:45 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Connecticut.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Well, thank you so much, everybody.  Let me begin by thanking Nicole, and Ian, for your brave words.  (Applause.)  I want to thank them and all the Newtown families who have come here today, including your First Selectman, Pat Llodra.  (Applause.)  Nobody could be more eloquent than Nicole and the other families on this issue.  And we are so grateful for their courage and willingness to share their stories again and again, understanding that nothing is going to be more important in making sure the Congress moves forward this week than hearing from them.

I want to thank all the educators from Sandy Hook Elementary who have come here as well — (applause) — the survivors —

AUDIENCE MEMBERS:  We love you, Obama!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  I do.  (Applause.)

— the survivors who still mourn and grieve, but are still going to work every day to love and raise those precious children in their care as fiercely as ever.

I want to thank Governor Malloy for his leadership.  (Applause.)  Very proud of him.  I want to thank the University of Hartford for hosting us this afternoon.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Hawks.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank the people of Connecticut for everything you’ve done to honor the memories of the victims — (applause) — because you’re part of their family as well.

One of your recent alumni, Rachel D’Avino, was a behavioral therapist at Sandy Hook.  Two alumni of your performing arts school, Jimmy Greene and Nelba Marquez-Greene, lost their daughter, Ana — an incredible, vibrant young girl who looked up to them, and learned from them, and inherited their talents by singing before she could talk.

So every family in this state was shaken by the tragedy of that morning.  Every family in this country was shaken.  We hugged our kids more tightly.  We asked what could we do, as a society, to help prevent a tragedy like that from happening again.

And as a society, we decided that we have to change.  We must.  We must change.  (Applause.)

I noticed that Nicole and others refer to that day as “12/14.”  For these families, it was a day that changed everything.  And I know many of you in Newtown wondered if the rest of us would live up to the promise we made in those dark days — if we’d change, too; or if once the television trucks left, once the candles flickered out, once the teddy bears were carefully gathered up, that the country would somehow move on to other things.

Over the weekend, I heard Francine Wheeler, who lost her son Ben that day, say that the four months since the tragedy might feel like a brief moment for some, but for her, it feels like it’s been years since she saw Ben.  And she’s determined not to let what happened that day just fade away.  “We’re not going anywhere,” she said.  “We are here.  And we are going to be here.”  And I know that she speaks for everybody in Newtown, everybody who was impacted.

And, Newtown, we want you to know that we’re here with you.  We will not walk away from the promises we’ve made.  (Applause.)  We are as determined as ever to do what must be done.  In fact, I’m here to ask you to help me show that we can get it done.  We’re not forgetting.  (Applause.)

We can’t forget.  Your families still grieve in ways most of us can’t comprehend.  But so many of you have used that grief to make a difference — not just to honor your own children, but to protect the lives of all of our children.  So many of you have mobilized, and organized, and petitioned your elected officials “with love and logic,” as Nicole put it — as citizens determined to right something gone wrong.

And last week, here in Connecticut, your elected leaders responded.  The Connecticut legislature, led by many of the legislators here today, passed new measures to protect more of our children and our communities from gun violence.  And Governor Malloy signed that legislation into law.  (Applause.)

So I want to be clear.  You, the families of Newtown, people across Connecticut, you helped make that happen.  Your voices, your determination made that happen.  Obviously, the elected leaders did an extraordinary job moving it forward, but it couldn’t have happened if they weren’t hearing from people in their respective districts, people all across the state.  That’s the power of your voice.

And, by the way, Connecticut is not alone.  In the past few months, New York, Colorado, Maryland have all passed new, common-sense gun safety reforms as well.  (Applause.)

These are all states that share an awful familiarity with gun violence, whether it’s the horror of mass killings, or the street crime that’s too common in too many neighborhoods.  All of these states also share a strong tradition of hunting, and sport shooting, and gun ownership.  It’s been a part of the fabric of people’s lives for generations.  And every single one of those states — including here in Connecticut — decided that, yes, we can protect more of our citizens from gun violence while still protecting our Second Amendment rights.  Those two things don’t contradict each other.  (Applause.)  We can pass common-sense laws that protect our kids and protect our rights.

So Connecticut has shown the way.  And now is the time for Congress to do the same.  (Applause.)  Now is the time for Congress to do the same.  This week is the time for Congress to do the same.  (Applause.)

Now, back in January, just a few months after the tragedy in Newtown, I announced a series of executive actions to reduce gun violence and keep our kids safe.  And I put forward common-sense proposals — much like those that passed here in Connecticut — for Congress to consider.  And you’ll remember in my State of the Union address, I urged Congress to give those proposals a vote.  And that moment is now.

As soon as this week, Congress will begin debating these common-sense proposals to reduce gun violence.  Your senators, Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy — they’re here — (applause) — your Representatives, John Larson, Rosa DeLauro, Elizabeth Esty, Jim Hines, Joe Courtney, they are all pushing to pass this legislation.  (Applause.)  But much of Congress is going to only act if they hear from you, the American people.  So here’s what we have to do.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I love you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  I appreciate that.  (Laughter.)  Here’s what we’ve got to do.  We have to tell Congress it’s time to require a background check for anyone who wants to buy a gun so that people who are dangerous to themselves and others cannot get their hands on a gun.  Let’s make that happen.  (Applause.)

We have to tell Congress it’s time to crack down on gun trafficking so that folks will think twice before buying a gun as part of a scheme to arm someone who won’t pass a background check.  Let’s get that done.  (Applause.)

We have to tell Congress it’s time to restore the ban on military-style assault weapons, and a 10-round limit for magazines, to make it harder for a gunman to fire 154 bullets into his victims in less than five minutes.  Let’s put that to a vote.  (Applause.)

We have to tell Congress it’s time to strengthen school safety and help people struggling with mental health problems get the treatment they need before it’s too late.  Let’s do that for our kids and for our communities.  (Applause.)

Now, I know that some of these proposals inspire more debate than others, but each of them has the support of the majority of the American people.  All of them are common sense.  All of them deserve a vote.  All of them deserve a vote.  (Applause.)

Consider background checks.  Over the past 20 years, background checks have kept more than 2 million dangerous people from getting their hands on a gun.  A group of police officers in Colorado told me last week that, thanks to background checks, they’ve been able to stop convicted murderers, folks under restraining orders for committing violent domestic abuse from buying a gun.  In some cases, they’ve actually arrested the person as they were coming to purchase the gun.

So we know that background checks can work.  But the problem is loopholes in the current law let so many people avoid background checks altogether.  That’s not safe.  It doesn’t make sense.  If you’re a law-abiding citizen and you go through a background check to buy a gun, wouldn’t you expect other people to play by the same rules?  (Applause.)

If you’re a law-abiding gun seller, wouldn’t you want to know you’re not selling your gun to someone who’s likely to commit a crime?  (Applause.)  Shouldn’t we make it harder, not easier for somebody who is convicted of domestic abuse to get his hands on a gun?  (Applause.)

It turns out 90 percent of Americans think so.  Ninety percent of Americans support universal background checks.  Think about that.  How often do 90 percent of Americans agree on anything?  (Laughter.)  And yet, 90 percent agree on this — Republicans, Democrats, folks who own guns, folks who don’t own guns; 80 percent of Republicans, more than 80 percent of gun owners, more than 70 percent of NRA households.  It is common sense.

And yet, there is only one thing that can stand in the way of change that just about everybody agrees on, and that’s politics in Washington.  You would think that with those numbers Congress would rush to make this happen.  That’s what you would think.  (Applause.)  If our democracy is working the way it’s supposed to, and 90 percent of the American people agree on something, in the wake of a tragedy you’d think this would not be a heavy lift.

And yet, some folks back in Washington are already floating the idea that they may use political stunts to prevent votes on any of these reforms.  Think about that.  They’re not just saying they’ll vote “no” on ideas that almost all Americans support.  They’re saying they’ll do everything they can to even prevent any votes on these provisions.  They’re saying your opinion doesn’t matter.  And that’s not right.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  That is not right.

AUDIENCE:  We want a vote!

THE PRESIDENT:  We need a vote.

AUDIENCE:  We want a vote!  We want a vote!

THE PRESIDENT:  We need a vote.

AUDIENCE:  We want a vote!

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, I’ve also heard some in the Washington press suggest that what happens to gun violence legislation in Congress this week will either be a political victory or defeat for me.  Connecticut, this is not about me.  This is not about politics.  This is about doing the right thing for all the families who are here that have been torn apart by gun violence.  (Applause.)  It’s about them and all the families going forward, so we can prevent this from happening again.  That’s what it’s about.  It’s about the law enforcement officials putting their lives at risk.  That’s what this is about.  This is not about politics.  (Applause.)  This is not about politics.

This is about these families and families all across the country who are saying let’s make it a little harder for our kids to get gunned down.

When I said in my State of the Union address that these proposals deserve a vote — that families of Newtown, and Aurora, and Tucson, and a former member of Congress, Gabby Giffords, that they all deserved a vote -– virtually every member of that chamber stood up and applauded.  And now they’re going to start denying your families a vote when the cameras are off and when the lobbyists have worked what they do?  You deserve better than that.  You deserve a vote.

Now, look, we knew from the beginning of this debate that change would not be easy.  We knew that there would be powerful interests that are very good at confusing the subject, that are good at amplifying conflict and extremes, that are good at drowning out rational debate, good at ginning up irrational fears, all of which stands in the way of progress.

But if our history teaches us anything, then it’s up to us –- the people -– to stand up to those who say we can’t, or we won’t; stand up for the change that we need.  And I believe that that’s what the American people are looking for.

When I first ran for this office, I said that I did not believe the country was as divided as our politics would suggest, and I still believe that.  (Applause.)  I know sometimes, when you watch cable news or talk radio, or you browse the Internet, you’d think, man, everybody just hates each other, everybody is just at each other’s throats.  But that’s not how most Americans think about these issues.  There are good people on both sides of every issue.

So if we’re going to move forward, we can’t just talk past one another.  We’ve got to listen to one another.  That’s what Governor Malloy and all these legislative leaders did.  That’s why they were able to pass bipartisan legislation.  (Applause.)

I’ve got stacks of letters from gun owners who want me to know that they care passionately about their right to bear arms, don’t want them infringed upon, and I appreciate every one of those letters.  I’ve learned from them.  But a lot of those letters, what they’ve also said is they’re not just gun owners; they’re also parents or police officers or veterans, and they agree that we can’t stand by and keep letting these tragedies happen; that with our rights come some responsibilities and obligations to our communities and ourselves, and most of all to our children.  We can’t just think about “us” –- we’ve got to think about “we, the people.”

I was in Colorado.  I told a story about Michelle.  She came back from a trip to rural Iowa; we were out there campaigning.  Sometimes it would be miles between farms, let alone towns.  And she said, you know, coming back, I can understand why somebody would want a gun for protection.  If somebody drove up into the driveway and, Barack, you weren’t home, the sheriff lived miles away, I might want that security.  So she can understand what it might be like in terms of somebody wanting that kind of security.

On the other hand, I also talked to a hunter last week who said, all my experiences with guns have been positive, but I also realize that for others, all their experiences with guns have been negative.

And when he said that, I thought about the mom I met from suburban Chicago whose son was killed in a random shooting.  And this mom told me, I hate it when people tell me that my son was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He was on his way to school.  He was exactly where he was supposed to be.  He was in the right place at the right time, and he still got shot.  (Applause.)

The kids at Sandy Hook were where they were supposed to be.  So were those moviegoers in Aurora.  So were those worshippers in Oak Creek.  So was Gabby Giffords.  She was at a supermarket, listening to the concerns of her constituents.  (Applause.)  They were exactly where they were supposed to be.  They were also exercising their rights — to assemble peaceably; to worship freely and safely.  They were exercising the rights of life and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  So surely, we can reconcile those two things.  Surely, America doesn’t have to be divided between rural and urban, and Democrat and Republican when it comes to something like this.

If you’re an American who wants to do something to prevent more families from knowing the immeasurable anguish that these families here have known, then we have to act.  Now is the time to get engaged.  Now is the time to get involved.  Now is the time to push back on fear, and frustration, and misinformation.  Now is the time for everybody to make their voices heard from every state house to the corridors of Congress.

And I’m asking everyone listening today, find out where your member of Congress stands on this.  If they’re not part of the 90 percent of Americans who agree on background checks, then ask them, why not?  Why wouldn’t you want to make it easier for law enforcement to do their job?  Why wouldn’t you want to make it harder for a dangerous person to get his or her hands on a gun?  What’s more important to you:  our children, or an A-grade from the gun lobby?  (Applause.)

I’ve heard Nicole talk about what her life has been like since Dylan was taken from her in December.  And one thing she said struck me.  She said, “Every night, I beg for him to come to me in my dreams so that I can see him again.  And during the day, I just focus on what I need to do to honor him and make change.”  Now, if Nicole can summon the courage to do that, how can the rest of us do any less?  (Applause.)  How can we do any less?

If there is even one thing we can do to protect our kids, don’t we have an obligation to try?  If there is even one step we can take to keep somebody from murdering dozens of innocents in the span of minutes, shouldn’t we be taking that step?  (Applause.)  If there is just one thing we can do to keep one father from having to bury his child, isn’t that worth fighting for?

I’ve got to tell you, I’ve had tough days in the presidency — I’ve said this before.  The day Newtown happened was the toughest day of my presidency.  But I’ve got to tell you, if we don’t respond to this, that will be a tough day for me, too.  (Applause.)  Because we’ve got to expect more from ourselves, and we’ve got to expect more from Congress.  We’ve got to believe that every once in a while, we set politics aside and we just do what’s right.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to believe that.

And if you believe that, I’m asking you to stand up.  (Applause.)  If you believe in the right to bears arms, like I do, but think we should prevent an irresponsible few from inflicting harm — stand up.  Stand up.  (Applause.)

If you believe that the families of Newtown and Aurora and Tucson and Virginia Tech and the thousands of Americans who have been gunned down in the last four months deserve a vote, we all have to stand up.  (Applause.)

If you want the people you send to Washington to have just an iota of the courage that the educators at Sandy Hook showed when danger arrived on their doorstep, then we’re all going to have to stand up.

And if we do, if we come together and raise our voices together and demand this change together, I’m convinced cooperation and common sense will prevail.  We will find sensible, intelligent ways to make this country stronger and safer for our children.  (Applause.)

So let’s do the right thing.  Let’s do right by our kids.  Let’s do right by these families.  Let’s get this done.  Connecticut, thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END                6:13 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines March 28, 2013: President Obama Renews Plea on Gun Control: ‘I Haven’t Forgotten’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Renews Plea on Gun Control: ‘I Haven’t Forgotten’

Source: NYT, 3-28-13

President Obama hugged a group of mothers who were victims of gun violence as he urged Congress to pass measures aimed at preventing it during an event in the East Room of the White House.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Obama hugged a group of mothers who were victims of gun violence as he urged Congress to pass measures aimed at preventing it during an event in the East Room of the White House.

Standing with shooting victims’ mothers, President Obama scolded lawmakers for not embracing proposals he put forward after the Sandy Hook massacre….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 28, 2013: President Barack Obama on Gun Violence: ‘Shame on Us If We’ve Forgotten’ Newtown

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama: ‘Shame on Us If We’ve Forgotten’ Newtown

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-28-13

Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Obama on Thursday vowed that the children killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School will not be forgotten as he made a plea for Congress to take action against gun violence.

“The entire country was shocked, and the entire country pledged we would do something about it and that this time would be different,” the president said as he stood in the East Room of the White House with 21 mothers working to combat gun violence in America….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 28, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Gun Violence & Safety & Protecting Our Children from Gun Violence — ‘Shame on Us If We’ve Forgotten’ Newtown

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama: We Have Not Forgotten What Happened in Newtown

Source: WH, 3-28-13

Today, President Obama promised the American people that he had not forgotten the 20 innocent chidlren and six brave educators who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary more than 100 days ago. Standing with parents and teachers of gun violence victims, he urged Congress to take action that will protect other children and families from the pain and grief these families have experienced….READ MORE

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks on gun safetyPresident Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks on gun safety in the East Room of the White House, March 28, 2013. Mothers who have lost children to gun violence join them on stage. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Remarks by the President on Gun Safety

President Obama Speaks on Protecting Our Children from Gun Violence

President Obama Speaks on Protecting Our Children from Gun Violence

Source: WH, 3-28-13 

East Room

11:58 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you, Katerina, for sharing your story.  Reema was lucky to have you as a teacher, and all of us are fortunate to have you here today.  And I’m glad we had a chance to remember her.

Katerina, as you just heard, lost one of her most promising students in Virginia Tech, the shootings there that took place six years ago.  And she and dozens of other moms and dads, all victims of gun violence, have come here today from across the country — united not only in grief and loss, but also in resolve, and in courage, and in a deep determination to do whatever they can, as parents and as citizens to protect other kids and spare other families from the awful pain that they have endured.

As any of the families and friends who are here today can tell you, the grief doesn’t ever go away.  That loss, that pain sticks with you.  It lingers on in places like Blacksburg and Tucson and Aurora.  That anguish is still fresh in Newtown.  It’s been barely 100 days since 20 innocent children and six brave educators were taken from us by gun violence — including Grace McDonnell and Lauren Rousseau and Jesse Lewis, whose families are here today.

That agony burns deep in the families of thousands — thousands of Americans who have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun over these last 100 days — including Hadiya Pendleton, who was killed on her way to school less than two months ago, and whose mom is also here today.  Everything they lived for and hoped for, taken away in an instant.  We have moms on this stage whose children were killed as recently as 35 days ago.

I don’t think any of us who are parents can hear their stories and not think about our own daughters and our own sons and our own grandchildren.  We all feel that it is our first impulse, as parents, to do everything we can to protect our children from harm; to make any sacrifice to keep them safe; to do what we have to do to give them a future where they can grow up and learn and explore, and become the amazing people they’re destined to be.

That’s why, in January, Joe Biden, leading a task force, came up with, and I put forward, a series of common-sense proposals to reduce the epidemic of gun violence and keep our kids safe.  In my State of the Union address, I called on Congress to give these proposals a vote.  And in just a couple of weeks, they will.

Earlier this month, the Senate advanced some of the most important reforms designed to reduce gun violence.  All of them are consistent with the Second Amendment.  None of them will infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners.  What they will do is keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people who put others at risk.  And this is our best chance in more than a decade to take common-sense steps that will save lives.

As I said when I visited Newtown just over three months ago, if there is a step we can take that will save just one child, just one parent, just another town from experiencing the same grief that some of the moms and dads who are here have endured, then we should be doing it.  We have an obligation to try.

Now, in the coming weeks, members of Congress will vote on whether we should require universal background checks for anyone who wants to buy a gun so that criminals or people with severe mental illnesses can’t get their hands on one.  They’ll vote on tough new penalties for anyone who buys guns only to turn around and sell them to criminals.  They’ll vote on a measure that would keep weapons of war and high-capacity ammunition magazines that facilitate these mass killings off our streets.  They’ll get to vote on legislation that would help schools become safer and help people struggling with mental health problems to get the treatment that they need.

None of these ideas should be controversial.  Why wouldn’t we want to make it more difficult for a dangerous person to get his or her hand on a gun?  Why wouldn’t we want to close the loophole that allows as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases to take place without a background check?  Why wouldn’t we do that?

And if you ask most Americans outside of Washington — including many gun owners — some of these ideas, they don’t consider them controversial.  Right now, 90 percent of Americans — 90 percent — support background checks that will keep criminals and people who have been found to be a danger to themselves or others from buying a gun.  More than 80 percent of Republicans agree.  More than 80 percent of gun owners agree.  Think about that.  How often do 90 percent of Americans agree on anything?  (Laughter.)  It never happens.

Many other reforms are supported by clear majorities of Americans.  And I ask every American to find out where your member of Congress stands on these ideas.  If they’re not part of that 90 percent who agree that we should make it harder for a criminal or somebody with a severe mental illness to buy a gun, then you should ask them, why not?  Why are you part of the 10 percent?

There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t get this done.  But the reason we’re talking about here today is because it’s not done until it’s done.  And there are some powerful voices on the other side that are interested in running out the clock or changing the subject or drowning out the majority of the American people to prevent any of these reforms from happening at all.  They’re doing everything they can to make all our progress collapse under the weight of fear and frustration, or their assumption is that people will just forget about it.

I read an article in the news just the other day wondering is Washington — has Washington missed its opportunity, because as time goes on after Newtown, somehow people start moving on and forgetting.  Let me tell you, the people here, they don’t forget.  Grace’s dad is not forgetting.  Hadiya’s mom hasn’t forgotten.  The notion that two months or three months after something as horrific as what happened in Newtown happens and we’ve moved on to other things, that’s not who we are.  That’s not who we are.

And I want to make sure every American is listening today.  Less than 100 days ago that happened, and the entire country was shocked.  And the entire country pledged we would do something about it and that this time would be different.  Shame on us if we’ve forgotten.  I haven’t forgotten those kids.  Shame on us if we’ve forgotten.

If there’s one thing I’ve said consistently since I first ran for this office:  Nothing is more powerful than millions of voices calling for change.  And that’s why it’s so important that all these moms and dads are here today.  But that’s also why it’s important that we’ve got grassroots groups out there that got started and are out there mobilizing and organizing and keeping up the fight.  That’s what it’s going to take to make this country safer.  It’s going to take moms and dads, and hunters and sportsmen, and clergy and local officials like the mayors who are here today standing up and saying, this time really is different — that we’re not just going to sit back and wait until the next Newtown or the next Blacksburg or the next innocent, beautiful child who is gunned down in a playground in Chicago or Philadelphia or Los Angeles before we summon the will to act.

Right now, members of Congress are back home in their districts, and many of them are holding events where they can hear from their constituents.  So I want everybody who is listening to make yourself heard right now.

If you think that checking someone’s criminal record before he can check out a gun show is common sense, you’ve got to make yourself heard.  If you’re a responsible, law-abiding gun owner who wants to keep irresponsible, law-breaking individuals from abusing the right to bear arms by inflicting harm on a massive scale, speak up.  We need your voices in this debate.  If you’re a mom like Katerina who wants to make this country safer, a stronger place for our children to learn and grow up, get together with other moms like the ones here today and raise your voices and make yourselves unmistakably heard.

We need everybody to remember how we felt 100 days ago and make sure that what we said at that time wasn’t just a bunch of platitudes — that we meant it.

The desire to make a difference is what brought Corey Thornblad here today.  Corey grew up in Oklahoma, where her dad sold firearms at gun shows.  And today, she’s a mom and a teacher.  And Corey said that after Newtown, she cried for days — for the students who could have been her students; for the parents she could have known; for the teachers like her who go to work every single day and love their kids and want them to succeed.  And Corey says, “My heart was broken.  And I decided now was the time to act, to march, the time to petition, the time to make phone calls, because tears were no longer enough.”  And that’s my attitude.

Tears aren’t enough.  Expressions of sympathy aren’t enough.  Speeches aren’t enough.  We’ve cried enough.  We’ve known enough heartbreak.  What we’re proposing is not radical, it’s not taking away anybody’s gun rights.  It’s something that if we are serious, we will do.

Now is the time to turn that heartbreak into something real.  It won’t solve every problem.  There will still be gun deaths.  There will still be tragedies.  There will still be violence.  There will still be evil.  But we can make a difference if not just the activists here on this stage but the general public — including responsible gun owners — say, you know what, we can do better than this.  We can do better to make sure that fewer parents have to endure the pain of losing a child to an act of violence.

That’s what this is about.  And if enough people like Katerina and Corey and the rest of the parents who are here today get involved, and if enough members of Congress take a stand for cooperation and common sense, and lead, and don’t get squishy because time has passed and maybe it’s not on the news every single day — if that’s who we are, if that’s our character that we’re willing to follow through on commitments that we say are important — commitments to each other and to our kids — then I’m confident we can make this country a safer place for all of them.

So thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

END
12:13 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines February 21, 2013: VP Joe Biden Speech on Gun Violence in Connecticut ‘Moral Price to Be Paid for Inaction’ on Guns

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Biden: ‘Moral Price to Be Paid for Inaction’ on Guns

Source: ABC News Radio,  2-21-13

Speaking just over 10 miles away from Sandy Hook Elementary on Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden warned Congress that there is a “moral price” that will be paid if action is not taken to prevent gun violence.

“I say to my colleagues who will watch this and listen to this, I say to you, if you’re concerned about your political survival, you should be concerned about the survival of our children, and guess what? I believe the price to be paid politically will go to those who refuse to act, who refuse to step forward because America’s changed on this issue.  You should all know the American people are with us,” Biden said at a conference on gun violence at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn. “There’s a moral price to be paid for inaction.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines January 4, 2013: PHOTO: President Barack Obama Hears of Sandy Hook Shooting

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

PHOTO: Obama Hears of Sandy Hook Shooting

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-6-13

Pete Souza/White House

A new collection of White House photos includes an image of the moment on Dec. 14 when President Obama heard about details of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

A grim-looking Obama leans on a couch as his Homeland Security adviser tells him of the shooting.

“The President reacts as John Brennan briefs him on the details of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.,” according to the caption provided by White House photographer Pete Souza.  “The President later said during a TV interview that this was the worst day of his Presidency.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines December 30, 2012: President Barack Obama on NBC’s Meet the Press Newtown School Shooting ‘Worst Day’ of Presidency

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama: Newtown Shooting ‘Worst Day’ of Presidency

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-30-12

The White House

President Obama said the Newton, Conn., shootings on December 14 were the “worst day” of his time in office.

Recollecting the tragic shooting deaths of 20 first graders and six adults at a Newtown, Conn. elementary school on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the president had been asked how his administration planned to move forward on gun control measures he had suggested in recent weeks. Ultimately, the president said, any coming legislation would be dependent on public approval.

“The question then becomes whether we are actually shook up enough by what happened here that it does not just become another one of these routine episodes where it gets a lot of attention for a couple of weeks and then it drifts away,” he said. “It certainly won’t feel like that to me. This is something that – you know, that was the worst day of my presidency. And it’s not something that I want to see repeated.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines December 19, 2012: President Barack Obama Unveils Plan to Tackle Gun Control at Press Conference

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama Unveils Plan to Tackle Gun Control

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-19-12

File photo. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Five days after deadliest elementary school shooting in U.S. history, President Obama said his administration plans immediate action early next year on proposals to curb an “epidemic of gun violence.”

At a morning news conference, Obama announced the formation of a task force to be headed by Vice President Joe Biden that will formulate a package of policy recommendations by January.

“The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing,” Obama said. “The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence doesn’t mean that we can’t steadily reduce the violence and prevent the very worst violence.” …READ MORE

Political Headlines December 18, 2012: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on the Gun Control Measures President Barack Obama Might Back

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Jay Carney on the Gun Control Measures Obama Might Back

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-18-12

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

The White House on Tuesday indicated President Obama would support legislation that would reinstate the ban on certain types of semi-automatic rifles — known as “the assault weapons ban” — and may support other efforts, such as a proposal to ban high-capacity magazines, in the wake of the deadly massacre in Newtown, Conn.

“He is actively supportive of, for example, Senator Feinstein’s stated intent to revive a piece of legislation that would reinstate the assault weapons ban,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters, publicly backing for the first time legislation Feinstein plans to introduce. The White House had previously been reluctant to publicly named any specific action it might support in an effort to prevent future massacres….READ MORE

Political Headlines December 17, 2012: Pro-Gun Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin Suggests New Gun Laws

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Pro-Gun Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin Suggests New Gun Laws

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-17-12

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., has been as pro-gun, pro-NRA as anybody in Congress.  During his 2010 re-election campaign, he famously demonstrated his opposition to the cap-and-trade bill by shooting the bill (literally) with a rifle.

Now, in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre, Manchin says it is time to re-think gun control.  As he said Monday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, “I don’t know anyone that needs 30 rounds in a clip to go hunting…”

On Twitter, Manchin endorsed a proposal by Sen. Joe Lieberman to create a national commission on gun violence.  But he said there must be action as an end result….READ MORE

Featured Historians December 17, 2012 Beverly Gage: Things Can Change on the Sandy Hook School Shooting

FEATURED HISTORIANS

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HISTORY OP-EDS

Things Can Change

A century ago, there were forms of brutal violence considered so thoroughly American that they could never be banished. Today, they no longer exist.

Source: Beverly Gage, Slate, 12-17-12 

Beverly Gage, a Yale history professor, is the author of The Day Wall Street Exploded.

158438293

People gather at a memorial for victims near the school on the first Sunday following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 16, 2012 in Newtown, Conn.Photograph by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Read the rest of Slate’s coverage of the Sandy Hook school shooting.

In 1985, when I was 13 years old, a woman suffering from schizophrenia brought a semiautomatic rifle to our local mall and began shooting. This was the mall where I picked out clothes from the Gap, where I sat for photos with Santa Claus as a toddler, where kids my age were just starting to hang out and flaunt their independence. The woman, 25-year-old Sylvia Seegrist, killed three people, including a 2-year-old child, and shot several others before being subdued by a man who thought she was shooting blanks. When asked why she had done it, Seegrist said, bizarrely, that “my family makes me nervous.” In other words, there was no reason at all.

As a middle-schooler, I registered the event only in the haziest terms: I knew something terrible had happened, I was glad it hadn’t happened to me, and I figured the adults would take care of the rest. Now, as an adult, what seems shocking is just how little was done. There were calls for keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, for better treatment and commitment laws, for more restrictive gun control, for greater community vigilance to identify people prone to violence. But none of it, apparently, mattered quite enough. Fourteen years after the Springfield Mall shooting came Columbine, then Virginia Tech, and now Sandy Hook Elementary.

Like millions of other heartsick people, I am inclined to despair at this list, to think that though all of this must change, it never will. But as a historian I am reminded that change often comes slowly, and with great pain and effort. A century ago, there were forms of graphic, brutal violence considered so thoroughly American that they could never be banished from the national landscape. Today they no longer exist. In the story of how these changes happened, there may be a model—or a least a bit of hope—for the present….READ MORE

Political Headlines December 17, 2012: President Barack Obama in Speech at Sandy Hook Interfaith Prayer Vigil: Nation Faces ‘Hard Questions’ After Connecticut Shooting

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama: Nation Faces ‘Hard Questions’ After Connecticut Shooting

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-16-12

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama said at an interfaith prayer service in the grieving community of Newtown, Conn., Sunday evening that the country is “left with some hard questions” if it is to curb a rising trend in gun violence, such as the shooting spree last Friday at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School.

After consoling victims’ families in classrooms at Newtown High School, the president said he would do everything in his power to “engage” a dialogue with Americans, including law enforcement and mental health professionals, because “we can’t tolerate this anymore.  These tragedies must end.  And to end them we must change.”…READ MORE

 

Remarks by the President at Sandy Hook Interfaith Prayer Vigil

Newtown High School

Newtown, Connecticut

8:37 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Governor.  To all the families, first responders, to the community of Newtown, clergy, guests — Scripture tells us:  “…do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away…inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”

We gather here in memory of twenty beautiful children and six remarkable adults.  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.

Here in Newtown, I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation.  I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts.  I can only hope it helps for you to know that you’re not alone in your grief; that our world too has been torn apart; that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you, we’ve pulled our children tight.  And you must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide; whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it.  Newtown — you are not alone.

As these difficult days have unfolded, you’ve also inspired us with stories of strength and resolve and sacrifice.  We know that when danger arrived in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary, the school’s staff did not flinch, they did not hesitate.  Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach, Vicki Soto, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel Davino and Anne Marie Murphy — they responded as we all hope we might respond in such terrifying circumstances — with courage and with love, giving their lives to protect the children in their care.

We know that there were other teachers who barricaded themselves inside classrooms, and kept steady through it all, and reassured their students by saying “wait for the good guys, they’re coming”; “show me your smile.”

And we know that good guys came.  The first responders who raced to the scene, helping to guide those in harm’s way to safety, and comfort those in need, holding at bay their own shock and trauma because they had a job to do, and others needed them more.

And then there were the scenes of the schoolchildren, helping one another, holding each other, dutifully following instructions in the way that young children sometimes do; one child even trying to encourage a grown-up by saying, “I know karate.  So it’s okay.  I’ll lead the way out.”  (Laughter.)

As a community, you’ve inspired us, Newtown.  In the face of indescribable violence, in the face of unconscionable evil, you’ve looked out for each other, and you’ve cared for one another, and you’ve loved one another.  This is how Newtown will be remembered.  And with time, and God’s grace, that love will see you through.

But we, as a nation, we are left with some hard questions.  Someone once described the joy and anxiety of parenthood as the equivalent of having your heart outside of your body all the time, walking around.  With their very first cry, this most precious, vital part of ourselves — our child — is suddenly exposed to the world, to possible mishap or malice.  And every parent knows there is nothing we will not do to shield our children from harm.  And yet, we also know that with that child’s very first step, and each step after that, they are separating from us; that we won’t — that we can’t always be there for them.  They’ll suffer sickness and setbacks and broken hearts and disappointments.  And we learn that our most important job is to give them what they need to become self-reliant and capable and resilient, ready to face the world without fear.

And we know we can’t do this by ourselves.  It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize, no matter how much you love these kids, you can’t do it by yourself.  That this job of keeping our children safe, and teaching them well, is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community, and the help of a nation.  And in that way, we come to realize that we bear a responsibility for every child because we’re counting on everybody else to help look after ours; that we’re all parents; that they’re all our children.

This is our first task — caring for our children.  It’s our first job.  If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right.  That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.

And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations?  Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children — all of them — safe from harm?  Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know that they are loved, and teaching them to love in return?  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?

I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no.  We’re not doing enough.  And we will have to change.

Since I’ve been President, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by a mass shooting.  The fourth time we’ve hugged survivors.  The fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims.  And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and big cities all across America — victims whose — much of the time, their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We can’t tolerate this anymore.  These tragedies must end.  And to end them, we must change.  We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true.  No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.

But that can’t be an excuse for inaction.  Surely, we can do better than this.  If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that — then surely we have an obligation to try.

In the coming weeks, I will 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?  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, 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?

All the world’s religions — so many of them represented here today — start with a simple question:  Why are we here?  What gives our life meaning?  What gives our acts purpose?  We know our time on this Earth is fleeting.  We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain; that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it’s wealth or power or fame, or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped.  We know that no matter how good our intentions, we will all stumble sometimes, in some way.  We will make mistakes, we will experience hardships.  And even when we’re trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans.

There’s only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have — for our children, for our families, for each other.  The warmth of a small child’s embrace — that is true.  The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves, and binds us to something larger — we know that’s what matters.  We know we’re always doing right when we’re taking care of them, when we’re teaching them well, when we’re showing acts of kindness.  We don’t go wrong when we do that.

That’s what we can be sure of.  And that’s what you, the people of Newtown, have reminded us.  That’s how you’ve inspired us.  You remind us what matters.  And that’s what should drive us forward in everything we do, for as long as God sees fit to keep us on this Earth.

“Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said, “and do not hinder them — for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Charlotte.  Daniel.  Olivia.  Josephine.  Ana.  Dylan.  Madeleine.  Catherine.  Chase.  Jesse.  James.  Grace.  Emilie.  Jack.  Noah.  Caroline.  Jessica.  Benjamin.  Avielle.  Allison.

God has called them all home.  For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on, and make our country worthy of their memory.

May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in His heavenly place.  May He grace those we still have with His holy comfort.  And may He bless and watch over this community, and the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END                 8:55 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency December 16, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Memorial for Sandy Hook School Shooting Victims in Newtown, Connecticut Transcript — Obama’s Message at Prayer Vigil ‘We will have to change’

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama at Prayer Vigil for Connecticut Shooting Victims: “Newtown, You Are Not Alone”

Source: WH, 12-16-12

Today, President Obama traveled to Newtown, CT to meet with the families of those who were lost in Friday’s tragic shooting, and to thank first responders for their work.

This evening the President spoke at an interfaith vigil for families of the victims, and all families from Sandy Hook Elementary School. He offered the love and prayers of a nation grieving alongside Newtown:

Here in Newtown, I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation.  I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts.  I can only hope it helps for you to know that you’re not alone in your grief; that our world too has been torn apart; that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you, we’ve pulled our children tight.  And you must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide; whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it.

Newtown — you are not alone.

As these difficult days have unfolded, you’ve also inspired us with stories of strength and resolve and sacrifice.  We know that when danger arrived in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary, the school’s staff did not flinch, they did not hesitate.  Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach, Vicki Soto, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel Davino and Anne Marie Murphy — they responded as we all hope we might respond in such terrifying circumstances — with courage and with love, giving their lives to protect the children in their care.

We know that there were other teachers who barricaded themselves inside classrooms, and kept steady through it all, and reassured their students by saying “wait for the good guys, they’re coming”; “show me your smile.”

And we know that good guys came.  The first responders who raced to the scene, helping to guide those in harm’s way to safety, and comfort those in need, holding at bay their own shock and trauma because they had a job to do, and others needed them more.

And then there were the scenes of the schoolchildren, helping one another, holding each other, dutifully following instructions in the way that young children sometimes do; one child even trying to encourage a grown-up by saying, “I know karate.  So it’s okay.  I’ll lead the way out.”

As a community, you’ve inspired us, Newtown.  In the face of indescribable violence, in the face of unconscionable evil, you’ve looked out for each other, and you’ve cared for one another, and you’ve loved one another.  This is how Newtown will be remembered.  And with time, and God’s grace, that love will see you through.

 

President Barack Obama attends the Sandy Hook interfaith vigil (December 16, 2012) President Barack Obama attends the Sandy Hook interfaith vigil at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn., Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama also spoke about the need to engage Americans in efforts to prevent tragedies like the one in Newtown, reiterating that America’s first job is caring for our children:

And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations?  Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children — all of them — safe from harm?  Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know that they are loved, and teaching them to love in return?  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?

I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no.  We’re not doing enough.  And we will have to change.

Since I’ve been President, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by a mass shooting.  The fourth time we’ve hugged survivors.  The fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims.  And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and big cities all across America — victims whose — much of the time, their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We can’t tolerate this anymore.  These tragedies must end.  And to end them, we must change.  We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true.  No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.

But that can’t be an excuse for inaction.  Surely, we can do better than this.  If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that — then surely we have an obligation to try.

Read President Obama’s full remarks from the vigil.

Watch President Obama’s Friday statement from the Briefing Room.

President Obama’s speech at prayer vigil for Newtown shooting victims (Full transcript)

Source: Washington Post, 12-16-12

View Photo Gallery — Community bands together in Newtown, Conn.: President Obama addressed the country from Newtown, Conn., on Sunday and met family members of those killed in Friday’s shooting rampage, carrying out the awful rituals tied to mass death and national grief for his fourth time in just four years as president.

Full transcript of President Obama’s remarks at a Dec. 16 prayer vigil for victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
OBAMA: Thank you.Thank you, Governor. To all the families, first responders, to the community of Newtown, clergy, guests, scripture tells us, “Do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly, we are being renewed day by day.“For light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all, so we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven not built by human hands.”

We gather here in memory of 20 beautiful children and six remarkable adults. 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.

Here in Newtown, I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation. I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts.

I can only hope it helps for you to know that you’re not alone in your grief, that our world, too, has been torn apart, that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you. We’ve pulled our children tight.

And you must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide. Whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it. Newtown, you are not alone.

As these difficult days have unfolded, you’ve also inspired us with stories of strength and resolve and sacrifice. We know that when danger arrived in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary, the school’s staff did not flinch. They did not hesitate.

Dawn Hocksprung and Mary Sherlach, Vicki Soto, Lauren Russeau, Rachel Davino and Anne Marie Murphy, they responded as we all hope we might respond in such terrifying circumstances, with courage and with love, giving their lives to protect the children in their care.

We know that there were other teachers who barricaded themselves inside classrooms and kept steady through it all and reassured their students by saying, “Wait for the good guys, they are coming. Show me your smile.”

And we know that good guys came, the first responders who raced to the scene helping to guide those in harm’s way to safety and comfort those in need, holding at bay their own shock and their own trauma, because they had a job to do and others needed them more.

And then there were the scenes of the schoolchildren helping one another, holding each other, dutifully following instructions in the way that young children sometimes do, one child even trying to encourage a grownup by saying, “I know karate, so it’s OK; I’ll lead the way out.”

As a community, you’ve inspired us, Newtown. In the face of indescribable violence, in the face of unconscionable evil, you’ve looked out for each other. You’ve cared for one another. And you’ve loved one another. This is how Newtown will be remembered, and with time and God’s grace, that love will see you through.

But we as a nation, we are left with some hard questions. You know, someone once described the joy and anxiety of parenthood as the equivalent of having your heart outside of your body all the time, walking around.

With their very first cry, this most precious, vital part of ourselves, our child, is suddenly exposed to the world, to possible mishap or malice, and every parent knows there’s nothing we will not do to shield our children from harm. And yet we also know that with that child’s very first step and each step after that, they are separating from us, that we won’t — that we can’t always be there for them.

They will suffer sickness and setbacks and broken hearts and disappointments, and we learn that our most important job is to give them what they need to become self-reliant and capable and resilient, ready to face the world without fear. And we know we can’t do this by ourselves.

It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize no matter how much you love these kids, you can’t do it by yourself, that this job of keeping our children safe and teaching them well is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community and the help of a nation.

And in that way we come to realize that we bear responsibility for every child, because we’re counting on everybody else to help look after ours, that we’re all parents, that they are all our children.

This is our first task, caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.

And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we’re meeting our obligations?

Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm?

Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know they are loved and teaching them to love in return?

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?

I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer’s no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change. Since I’ve been president, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by mass shootings, fourth time we’ve hugged survivors, the fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims.

And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and in big cities all across America, victims whose — much of the time their only fault was being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.

We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.

If there’s even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that’s visited Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that, then surely we have an obligation to try.

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? 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, 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?

You know, all the world’s religions, so many of them represented here today, start with a simple question.

Why are we here? What gives our life meaning? What gives our acts purpose?

We know our time on this Earth is fleeting. We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain, that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it’s wealth or power or fame or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped. We know that, no matter how good our intentions, we’ll all stumble sometimes in some way.

We’ll make mistakes, we’ll experience hardships and even when we’re trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans.

There’s only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have for our children, for our families, for each other. The warmth of a small child’s embrace, that is true.

The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves and binds us to something larger, we know that’s what matters.

We know we’re always doing right when we’re taking care of them, when we’re teaching them well, when we’re showing acts of kindness. We don’t go wrong when we do that.

That’s what we can be sure of, and that’s what you, the people of Newtown, have reminded us. That’s how you’ve inspired us. You remind us what matters. And that’s what should drive us forward in everything we do for as long as God sees fit to keep us on this Earth.

“Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said, “and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

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.

For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on and make our country worthy of their memory. May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in His heavenly place. May He grace those we still have with His holy comfort, and may He bless and watch over this community and the United States of America.

Political Headlines December 16, 2012: Connecticut School Shooting: President Barack Obama Offers Newtown ‘Love and Prayers of a Nation’ in Speech at Memorial for School Shooting Victims

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Connecticut School Shooting: Obama Offers Newtown ‘Love and Prayers of a Nation’

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-16-12

President Obama told the grieving community of Newtown, Conn., that the nation has wept with them for the loss of 20 children and six teachers and school staff members killed in a senseless massacre.

Grim-faced, Obama took the stage at Newtown High School auditorium Sunday night to speak at a memorial service for the first graders, teachers, principal and other school staff members killed Friday by 20-year-old Adam Lanza at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation,” the president said. “I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow nor can they heal your wounded hearts. I can only hope it helps to know you are not alone … and that all across this land we have wept with you.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines December 16, 2012: President Barack Obama Travels to Connecticut for a Vigil for the Victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting — As Nation Struggles Over Next Moves on Gun Control

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Travels to Connecticut as Nation Struggles Over Next Moves on Gun Control

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-16-12

The White House

President Obama is expected to travel to a mourning Newtown, Conn., this evening for memorial services, as the nation pieces together the circumstances that led to a gunman taking the lives of 20 young children and six adults Friday at the community’s Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Assuming a consoling role that has become all too familiar for this presidency, Obama will also privately meet with some of the families affected by the tragic shooting, as well as local first responders….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency December 15, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Vows ‘Meaningful Action’ After Connecticut School Shooting — Nation Grieves for Those Killed in Tragic Shooting in Newtown, Connecticut

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Weekly Address: President Obama Vows ‘Meaningful Action’ After Connecticut Shooting

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-15-12

SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages

Mourning the victims of the deadly shooting rampage at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, President Obama says it’s time to “take meaningful action” to prevent future tragedies like this from occurring.

“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,” the President says in his weekly address. “Among the fallen were also teachers – men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.”

Twenty children and six adults were killed when a gunman opened fire Friday morning in Sandy Hook Elementary School….READ MORE

Weekly Address: Nation Grieves for Those Killed in Tragic Shooting in Newtown, CT

Source: WH, 12-15-12

The President says the nation’s thoughts and prayers are with those who lost a loved one during Friday’s tragic shooting in Newtown, CT.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

Weekly Address: Nation Grieves for Those Killed in Tragic Shooting in Newtown, CT

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.

Thank you.

Political Headlines December 14, 2012: ‘Our Hearts Are Broken Today,’ President Barack Obama Says in Emotional & Tearful Speech on the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

‘Our Hearts Are Broken Today,’ President Obama Says

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-14-12

The White House

[TRANSCRIPT: President Obama Reacts to the Newtown, Conn. Shooting]

Wiping away tears for the victims of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, President Obama came to the White House briefing room Friday afternoon to mourn the victims of this morning’s carnage.

“The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old,” the president said, pausing to collect himself as tears began to stream from his eyes. “They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.”…

The president’s public reaction was not only more emotional than after any previous shooting during his presidency — many of which he recited in a grim list — but more political. While the president has avoided any serious discussions of gun control, on Friday he hinted about the subject….READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines December 14, 2012: Governors & Congress Reactions to Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting in Newtown, Connecticut — Call Shooting ‘Senseless,’ Some Urge Gun Restrictions

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Politicians Call Connecticut Shooting ‘Senseless,’ Some Urge Gun Restrictions

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-14-12

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

Politicians on Twitter and in written statements reacted with horror to the school shooting that left 27 people dead, including 18 children, in Newtown, Conn., Friday.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: 

During times of such unthinkable tragedy, all New Yorkers stand together with the people of our neighboring state to grieve the loss of life and help bear the pain and anguish that will be felt by so many in the weeks, months, and years to come. While we don’t have all the facts and our focus must be on the victims, this is yet another senseless and horrific act of violence involving guns. We as a society must unify and once and for all crack down on the guns that have cost the lives of far too many innocent Americans. Let this terrible tragedy finally be the wake-up call for aggressive action and I pledge my full support in that effort.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.:

Yet another unstable person has gotten access to firearms and committed an unspeakable crime against innocent children.  We cannot simply accept this as a routine product of modern American life. 

If now is not the time to have a serious discussion about gun control and the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our society, I don’t know when is.  How many more Columbines and Newtowns must we live through?  I am challenging President Obama, the Congress, and the American public to act on our outrage and, finally, do something about this.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: 

‘There is, I’m sure — will be, rather, a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates, but I don’t think today is that day. 

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell: 

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those impacted by the events transpiring today, and to the teachers, emergency responders, and all others touched by this tragedy. Unfortunately, Virginia has our own painful memories of the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007. Those memories will never fade, and we continue to grieve for all those lost on that April day. We are all too aware of the impact that events like this can have on a community. If there is anything Virginia can do to assist Governor Malloy and the citizens of Connecticut, we stand ready to do so.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, of Colorado: 

The shooting in Connecticut is absolutely horrific and heartbreaking. We know too well what impact this kind of violence has on a community and our nation. Our thoughts and prayers are immediately with the families of those killed. We can offer comfort, but we all know the pain will stay forever.

Rep. Joe Courtney, R-Ct.: 

@RepJoeCourtney: #Newtown shooting is an horrific, senseless tragedy. Thoughts and prayers for victims, families, and the Sandy Hook Elementary community.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: 

@NancyPelosi: No words can console the parents of the children murdered at Sandy Hook. We share our prayers and our grief over these horrifying events.

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