Obama speech Newtown memorial vigil elementary school shooting

Obama: We Will Have To Change

Obama: We Will Have To Change

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Dec. 16 2012 10:35 PM

Obama: We Will Have To Change

President Obama pauses as he speaks during a memorial service for the victims and relatives of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Sunday

Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama traveled to Newtown, Conn., on Sunday to console the community that has been devastated by the massacre of 20 six- and seven-year-old children and six adults at an elementary school. While he was short on details, Obama made it clear he plans to launch an effort to try to prevent more mass shootings, reports NBC News. “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,” Obama said in an emotional address in which he read the first names of each of the victims. “Because what choice do we have? We can't accept events like this as routine.”

Obama pointed out that his speech at the interfaith vigil Sunday marked the fourth time he went to a community devastated by a mass shooting since he became president, and that doesn’t even consider the “endless series of deadly shootings” that take place across the country all too frequently. “We can't tolerate this anymore,” Obama said. “These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.” Even though “no single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society … that can’t be an excuse for inaction.” In between the calls to action, Obama also uttered words meant to comfort those who were grieving, noting he had traveled to Newtown to “offer the love and prayers of the nation.” Even though “mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow” he expressed “hope that it helps for you to know that you are not alone in your grief.”


Watch the speech after the jump (a transcript is available here):

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.