President Barack Obama teared up as he offered condolences after the Connecticut elementary school shooting massacre Friday that left 27 dead, mostly children—prompting similarly strong reactions from lawmakers near and far.
Officials pledged support to those affected by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults were killed before the gunman took his own life.
“We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years,” Obama said in a national address from the White House. “Our hearts are broken today…as a country we have been through this too many times.”
He added the Washington needs to come together and take “meaningful action” regardless of politics to prevent such tragedies in the future.
The school shooting was the third such massacre in the country in six months. On July 20, during the opening of The Dark Knight Rises, a 25-year-old gunman opened fire inside a Colorado movie theater, killing 12 and wounding 58. One month later, six people were killed during a Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin.
Democratic lawmakers in New York took the sentiment a step further and pointed to the tragedy as an example of the need for stricter gun control.
“While we don’t have all the facts and our focus must be on the victims, this is yet another senseless and horrific act of violence involving guns,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “We as a society must unify and once and for all crack down on the guns that have cost the lives of far too many innocent Americans. Let this terrible tragedy finally be the wake-up call for aggressive action.”
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said, “Perhaps an awful tragedy like this will bring us together so we can do what it takes to prevent this horror from being repeated again.”
New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) also implyied a national discussion about mass violence is needed. “Our schools should be a safe and nurturing environment for our children and parents should never have to fear for their safety when they are learning,” he said.
“We keep viewing these tragedies as teachable moments on stopping gun violence, and then we forget the lessons until the next tragedy,” added Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills). “Over the next days and weeks, we must come together on common-sense steps to keep guns out of schools.”
Republican lawmakers stuck to offering condolences without getting into the gun control debate.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims of this heinous attack that has brought such heartbreak and grief to people in Connecticut and across the country,” said New York State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre).
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said on his Facebook page that the victims of the tragedy would be in his prayers.
But Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola), whose son was maimed and husband was among six murdered in the 1993 Long Island Rail Road massacre, did not shy away from calling for stricter gun regulations after the latest shooting spree.
“These shootings are becoming all too common, and it’s too easy for dangerous people to get the weapons that help them perform mass executions like today’s,” she said. “We owe it to our children to work harder to reduce gun violence. The Second Amendment is the law of the land but it was never intended to allow murderers to take the lives of innocent kids. It’s our moral obligation as policymakers and as parents to do more to save lives.”
-With Timothy Bolger