Connecticut school shooting: Tearful Barack Obama says 'our hearts are broken'

Tearful Obama

Choking up and wiping away tears, President Barack Obama said on Friday "our hearts are broken" for the victims of a deadly shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school and called for "meaningful action" to prevent such violence.

"We've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years," Obama said during a televised appearance in the White House briefing room just hours after one of the worst mass shootings in US history.

Pausing to collect himself as he expressed "overwhelming grief" as a parent, Obama deplored the "heinous" attack by a heavily armed gunman at a school in Newtown, Connecticut that killed 26 people, including 20 children. The shooter is also dead, police said.

Obama, who has responded to previous shooting massacres by citing the need for a national conversation about gun violence, again stopped short of calling for tougher gun-control laws, considered a politically risky in a country known for its flourishing gun culture.

But, little more than a month after his decisive re-election to a second term, he suggested that in the aftermath of Friday's tragedy he might be ready to take a more assertive approach.

"As a country, we have been through this too many times," Obama said, ticking off a list of recent shootings.

"And we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics," he said, in an apparent reference to the influence of the National Rifle Association, a powerful pro-gun lobby, over members of Congress.

Obama avoided making direct calls for gun control during his bitterly fought campaign for a second term, which he secured in a November 6 election.

PAUSE IN PARTISAN BICKERING

But partisan bickering in Washington, divided as much as ever before by a battle over a looming "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and spending cuts, was put on hold on Friday amid mourning for the dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

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