Addressing the grieving community of Newtown, Conn., Sunday night, President Barack Obama promised to take action to prevent shooting massacres like the one that killed 26 people — mostly children — at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week.“Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm?” Obama asked. “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.”
“We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.”
The speech was the fourth — and most forceful — that Obama has given in the wake of a shooting massacre since he took office. Previously, the President has shied away from addressing gun control in these speeches, focusing instead on a less politically divisive message.
On Sunday, Obama broke with this pattern, calling for legislative and cultural change to address gun violence.
“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,” Obama continued. “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?” he continued. “Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”
The speech Sunday also took a personal tone, reflecting his own emotional reaction to the events at Sandy Hook Elementary. In his first remarks on the shooting, the usually reserved President broke down in tears while delivering his statement. And before visiting Newtown on Sunday, the President attended his daughter Sasha’s dance recital in Washington.
“We’re all parents, 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,” Obama said. “That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.”
Watch the full speech below: