‘These tragedies must end’

International

MARK LANDLER & PETER BAKER

President Obama vowed on Sunday to "use whatever power this office holds" to stop massacres like the slaughter at the school here that shocked the nation, hinting at a fresh effort to curb the spread of guns as he declared there was no "excuse for inaction."

In a surprisingly assertive speech at a memorial service for the 27 victims, including 20 children, Obama said the country had failed to protect its young and that its leaders could no longer sit by idly because "the politics are too hard." While he did not elaborate on what action he would propose, he said "these tragedies must end."

The speech, a blend of grief and resolve, seemed to promise a significant change in direction for a president who has not made gun issues a top priority in four years in office. After each of three other mass killings during his tenure, Obama has renewed calls for legislation without exerting much political capital, but the definitive language on Sunday may make it harder for him not to act this time.

"No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society," he said. "But that can't be an excuse for inaction."

He added that "in the coming weeks I'll use whatever power this office holds" in an effort "aimed at preventing more tragedies like this...We can't accept events like this as routine. Are we really...powerless in the face of such carnage?"

The president's trip here came amid rising pressure to push for tighter regulation of guns in America.

However, the president offered no specific proposals, and there were no urgent meetings at the White House over the weekend to draft the legislation.

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