NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — For President Barack Obama, it was another sorrowful visit to another grieving community full of broken hearts from unimaginable violence.
The spot, this time, was Newtown, Conn., where on Friday a man opened fire inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. The toll: 26 dead, including 20 boys and girls just 6 or 7 years old.
The president met privately Sunday afternoon at Newtown High School, about a mile and a half from Sandy Hook Elementary, with families of the victims and with emergency personnel who responded to the shootings. In the evening, he was to speak at an interfaith vigil.
Obama was addressing not only the residents of Newtown, but also a stunned nation. A White House official said Obama is the primary author of his speech and edited his remarks on the flight to Connecticut with White House speechwriter Cody Keenan.
Keenan helped Obama write his speech last year following the shootings in Tucson, Ariz., that killed six and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabby Giffords.
“As a nation, we have endured far too many of these tragedies in the last few years,” Obama said in his public address. “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.”
Just last summer, Obama went to Aurora, Colo., to visit victims and families after a shooting spree at a movie theater in the Denver suburb that left 12 dead. He went to Tucson, Ariz., in January of last year after six people were killed and 13 were wounded, including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, outside a grocery store.
In November 2009, Obama traveled to Fort Hood, Texas, to speak at the memorial service for 13 service members who were killed on the post by another soldier.
“We have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this. Regardless of the politics,” Obama said in his broadcast remarks.
After the Colorado shooting in July, the White House made clear that Obama would not propose new gun restrictions in an election year and said he favored better enforcement of existing laws.
The Connecticut shootings may have changed the political dynamic in Washington, although public opinion in favor of gun control has declined over the years. While the White House has said Obama stands by his desire to reinstate a ban on military-style assault weapons, he has not pushed Congress to act.