President Obama Sunday night said the nation isn't doing enough to keep its children safe and called for changes to prevent more incidents of gun violence.
Speaking solemnly but forcefully at an interfaith vigil for the slain children and teachers at Sandy Hook elementary school, Obama said it is the fourth mass shooting of his presidency and pledged to use "whatever power this office holds" for an effort aimed at preventing such violence because "what choice do we have?"
(Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, who preceded Obama on the stage said that the president told him that the "worst day of his presidency" was Friday -- when he learned about the shooting)
Obama noted that no single act would bring about an end to the violence, but said "we can't tolerate this anymore.These tragedies must end and to end them, we must change."
He said that one of life's highest calling is parenthood, and yet, "Can we honestly say that we're doing enough to keep our children safe from harm? If we're honest with ourselves, the answer's 'No.' "
Deep sobs could be heard as he read the names of the teachers and the principal who were killed at Sandy Hook, but he got a few chuckles when he spoke about how the children in the school were "dutifully following instructions as young children sometimes do" and again when he talked about how one small child said, the others could follow him, "because he knew karate."
Obama spoke without teleprompter, carrying his remarks in his dark folder. In front of the small lectern on the stage bearing the presidential seal were lighted votives representing the victims.
Obama closed by reading the first name of each child and said: "Let us make our country worthy of their memory."
Outside the school, reporters saw a crowd of people, wrapped in blankets and holding candles, as they listened to coverage of the service on a speaker.