More than a dozen of children have been killed after a gunman opened fire at a primary school in Newtown, Connecticut yesterday.
An emotional President Barack Obama teared up, at times wiping the corner of his eyes, as he addressed the nation from the White House.
The U.S. president, a father of two, also paused several struggling to keep his composure while speaking of the children, who would never enjoy their lives.
“Each time I learn the news I react not as a president but as anyone else would, as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there’s not a parent in America that doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do,‚ÄĚ Obama said.
“The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of five and ten years old.‚ÄĚ
The president continued: “They had their entire lives ahead of them, birthdays, graduations weddings kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.”
He said: “Our hearts are broken today for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children and for the families of the adults who were lost.”
Obama said he and his wife, Michelle, would hug their two daughters even closer Friday evening and encouraged Americans to do what they could to help.
“We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years, and each time I learn the news, I react not as a president but as anyone else would – as a parent,” he said.
Obama ended his remarks with a quote from the Bible, as he often has in similar situations: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds,” a line from the Book of Psalms.
Soon after delivering the speech, the emotional U.S. president ordered to flow flags at half-staff until Dec. 18.
Just an hour after Obama claimed that the country needs “meaningful action to prevent more tragedies,” about 200 people rallied outside the White House in favor of gun restrictions.
They believe that the president – a longtime advocate for gun control – would approach the subject without fear of political consequences in his second four-year term, Reuters reports.
However, the re-elected U.S. leader still faces a Republican-led House of Representatives that could block such reforms.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who heads a coalition of mayors on gun policy, said Obama should not be deterred and should send legislation to Congress.
“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.
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney suggested it was not the day for a debate on gun control in an immediate reaction to the shooting.
“I really encourage all of us to give a moment here to focus on what is an unfolding tragedy in Connecticut and not to engage in Washington policy battles of long running,” Carney said.
“We do that often and it’s appropriate, and I’m sure the day for this will come, but today is not that day, in our mind. We’re focused on what’s happening in Connecticut,” he added.