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Obama urges solidarity as US mourns victims


Sorrowful: US President Barack Obama wipes a tear as he speaks about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in Washington, on Friday. Pic: Reuters

Washington: President Barack Obama yesterday urged Americans to join in solidarity as they mourn the victims of a shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school, saying the hearts of parents across the country were "heavy with hurt" for the lives lost.

In his weekly radio and Internet speech, Obama also repeated a message he put forth on Friday, just hours after one of the worst mass shootings in US history, on the need to set aside politics and "take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this."

But Obama went no further than that, and again stopped short of specifically calling for tighter gun-control laws.  Twenty children were killed by a heavily armed gunman who opened fire at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday. He killed at least 26 people there before turning his gun on himself.

"We grieve for the families of those we lost. And we keep in our prayers the parents of those who survived," Obama said.

Gun-control
The shooting spree reignited a debate over gun-control in a country with a flourishing gun culture and a strong gun lobby, which has discouraged most politicians from any major efforts to address the easy availability of firearms.

Obama mostly steered clear of the issue during his successful re-election campaign this year, and it remains unclear whether he might be willing to take a more assertive approach now that he has secured a second term.

Obama urged to act
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who runs a coalition of mayors on gun policy, said the Democratic president should press ahead despite likely opposition from Republicans who control the US House of Representatives.

"We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership - not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today," Bloomberg said in a statement.
Ticking off some of the recent shooting incidents, Obama said in his address: "As a nation, we have endured far too many of these tragedies in the last few years."

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