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Dublin: 14 °C Friday 22 August, 2014

Obama due to attend interfaith vigil for Newtown victims

The President will visit the scene of Friday’s school massacre to sympathise with the families of the 27 victims.

Barack Obama wipes his eye as he speaks to reporters about the Newtown massacre last Friday evening.
Barack Obama wipes his eye as he speaks to reporters about the Newtown massacre last Friday evening.
Image: Charles Dharapak/AP

US PRESIDENT Barack Obama is due to visit Newtown in Connecticut, the scene of Friday’s massacre at an elementary school, later today.

The president will speak at an interfaith vigil in memory of the 27 victims – including 20 schoolchildren – who were killed in Friday’s attacks.

Obama will privately visit the families of the 27 victims, as well as meeting emergency response teams who dealt with the aftermath of the schootings.

The trip marks Obama’s fourth trip to meet the victims of mas shootings; he has previously made similar journeys to Aurora, Colorado after a cinema shooting; to Tuscon, Arizona, after the shooting of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her aides; and to Fort Hood in Texas where 13 soldiers were shot dead by a colleague.

In his weekly radio address broadcast yesterday, Obama hinted at hopes to tackle the country’s powerful gun lobby and introduce legislation to restrict the possession and purchase of firearms.

“As a nation, we have endured far too many of these tragedies in the last few years,” Obama said.

An elementary school in Newtown. A shopping mall in Oregon. A house of worship in Wisconsin. A movie theatre in Colorado. Countless street corners in places like Chicago and Philadelphia.

Any of these neighbourhoods could be our own. So we have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this. Regardless of the politics.

The comments may represent a slight change in tack for the Obama administration, which after the Aurora cinema shootings had pledged not to impose new gun restrictions, but instead opted to focus on better enforcement of previous laws.

The US constitution, through its second amendment, provides that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”, the idea being that an armed public was needed because a “well regulated militia” was “necessary to the security of a free state”.

That right is vigorously guarded by the likes of the National Rifle Association, but opposed by many who believe the provision is outdated and now represents only a danger to public security.

Named: The 27 victims of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings

Read: Connecticut school shooter ‘forced his way in’

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