Political Updates

Is The President’s Speech on the Connecticut Shooting the Beginning of Real Change?

Words: Charles Regnante

President Barack Obama emotionally addressed the people of Newtown, Connecticut at an interfaith vigil on Sunday. After assuaging 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 increasing law enforcement and mental health professionals, because “we can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them we must change.”

The president was not specific about what he thought would be necessary and did not even use the word “gun” in his remarks, but his speech was broadly perceived as a prelude to a call for more limits and restrictions on the availability of firearms. The president later asked whether the country as a whole could ask itself whether it was doing everything it could to meet its obligations in protecting all children. “This job of protecting kids and teaching them well is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, with the help of a community, and the help of a nation.”

The president took the first minutes of his speech to recite scripture and remember those lost when alleged shooter, Adam Lanza broke into the elementary school with a semiautomatic rifle and two handguns, opening fire before committing suicide. After the president cited the names of the faculty members who died in the attack, he gave a few words of sympathy. “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,” he said.

The president said on Friday it was time for “meaningful action” to prevent such tragedies, “regardless of the politics.” This is a slight but noticeable shift for Obama, who has not actively pursued stricter gun control during his four years in office despite pledges to do so during his 2008 candidacy. But with so many young victims, a bipartisan group of lawmakers and activists emerged over the weekend suggesting now was the time to push gun control.

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