[Updated on 12/17/12 at 1:30 a.m. PT to include excerpt of official White House transcript of Obama’s remarks.]
President Obama, speaking on Sunday night, Dec. 16, 2012, at a vigil in Newtown, Conn., vowed to "use whatever power this office holds to engage our citizens … to save another child or another parent or another town."
Obama was referring to the massacre on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012 of 20 children and 7 adults (including the shooter’s mother) by a 20-year-old man who then shot and killed himself.
A number of TV outlets, as well as NPR, carried Obama’s remarks live.
According to a report on the website of NBC News, "Saying society would be judged by how well it fosters its children, the president said: ‘We’re all parents. And they’re all our children This is our first task: caring for our children.’ Obama asked whether America was doing enough and bluntly concluded: ‘No. And this must change.’
"’We can’t tolerate this any longer,’ he declared. ‘These tragedies must end.’ The president challenged the audience asking: ‘Are we prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is the price of our freedom?’
"He vowed to ‘use whatever power this office holds to engage our citizens … to save another child or another parent or another town’ the anguish of Newtown. The president concluded by reciting the names of all 20 children who had been killed and asked God to bless them ‘with His holy comfort.’"
Accordiing to the White House website, here is the part of Obama’s speech about this subject:
"This is our first task — caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.
"And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children — all of them — safe from harm? Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know that they are loved, and teaching them to love in return? Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?
"I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.
"Since I’ve been President, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by a mass shooting. The fourth time we’ve hugged survivors. The fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims. And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and big cities all across America — victims whose — much of the time, their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.
"But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has 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.
"In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?"