Obama consoles grieving families of Connecticut school victims

US shooting

The memorial service included recitations by inter-faith leaders and prayers for the victims and the first responders.

A young Muslim boy also read verses from the Quran. Obama, sitting in the first row of the auditorium, flanked by city officials and the town's residents, listened to the prayers and sermons intently and somberly.

As the tragedy reopens the debate on the country's gun laws, Obama said, "no single law or set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our societies. That cannot be an excuse for inaction, surely we can do better than this."

"We cannot accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say we are powerless in the face of such carnage? that the politics are too hard?

"In the coming weeks I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens," he said, adding

"in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like his. Because what choice do we have?"

Before participating in the memorial service, Obama met separately with the families of the victims.

During the service, the President read out the names of the young children who were killed in the massacre.

He also read the names of the six Sandy Hook staff members, including the school's principal and teachers, who he said showed courage and did not hesitate to put themselves in the line of fire to protect the children.

"They responded as we all hope we might respond in such terrifying circumstances, with courage and with love, giving their lives to protect the children in their care," he said.

Obama recalled the recent shooting incidents of a theatre in Colorado and the gurudwara in Wisconsin saying that "if there's even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that's visited Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that, then surely we have an obligation to try."

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