Addressing a stunned nation, US President Barack Obama yesterday grieved for the children and teachers massacred at an elementary school in the US state of Connecticut, declaring that "every parent in America has a heart heavy with hurt".
Mr Obama, addressing the tragedy for the second time since the violence erupted on Friday, sympathised with the families of the dead and said he and his wife Michelle "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".
Mr Obama spoke in his weekly radio and internet address. Republicans, who typically also give an address, ceded their time so that Mr Obama could speak for the nation. The carnage was carried out by a man who killed his mother at home and then massacred 26 people, including 20 children, at an elementary school in Newtown where she taught, authorities say. The shooter committed suicide at the school.
"Our hearts are broken," Mr Obama said. "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." Mr Obama's remarks were similar to ones he delivered emotionally from the White House briefing room on Friday afternoon. Mr Obama paused and wiped his eyes as he spoke.
He reiterated his appeal that, "regardless of the politics", it was time for the country to join together and "take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this". But neither he nor his aides have specified what action that might entail.
Gun-control activists, however, promptly renewed their demand for new gun laws. The most prominent was New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who declared pointedly in a statement: "Calling for 'meaningful action' is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before."