US President Barack Obama on Sunday demanded changes in the way the country dealt with gun violence, though he avoided the use of the word "gun" itself in consoling the Connecticut town shattered by the massacre of 20 young schoolchildren.
Obama said the world would judge the nation by the way it cared for its children, and that Friday's slaughter left that judgment wanting.
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"Can we say that we're truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose? I've been reflecting on this in the last few days. And if we're honest with ourselves the answer's no," Obama told a packed auditorium at Newtown High School at the end of a somber multi-faith service.
"We're not doing enough and we will have to change."
The emotional prayer vigil capped a day when worshippers sought solace in churches to mourn the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where a gunman used a military-style assault rifle to kill six adults and 20 first-graders before committing suicide.
A more detailed picture of Adam Lanza's stunning attack emerged on Sunday. Police said he was armed with hundreds of bullets in high-capacity magazines of about 30 rounds each for the Bushmaster AR 15 rifle and two handguns he carried into the school. He had a fourth weapon, a shotgun, in his car outside.
Obama in Newtown (Photo: AFP)
All the dead children were either 6 or 7 years old, feeding more emotion into a revived debate about whether stricter gun laws could prevent future mass shootings in the United States.
Obama noted it was the fourth time in his presidency he had needed to console a community after such an attack, following the shootings in Tucson, Arizona in January, 2011; Aurora, Colorado in July; and Oak Creek, Wisconsin in August.
Newtown mourns victims (Photo: EPA)
"Here in Newtown, I come to offer the love and prayers of the nation," Obama said. "I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts."
Obama, who on Friday wiped away tears as he addressed the nation following the killings, somberly spoke the first names of the 20 children. People in the audience wailed and cried out as they heard the names.
He said he would convene a meeting of law enforcers, parents, educators and others in an effort to prevent future tragedies, but he did not specifically call for tougher gun laws, mindful of the heated debate ahead on the issue.
Picture of the crime
While townspeople grieved, investigators examined forensic evidence and scoured the crime scene in a process likely to extend for weeks. Many more witnesses needed to be interviewed, possibly including children who survived the attack, state police Lieutenant Paul Vance said.
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said the gunman shot his way through a school door "using several rounds" before beginning to kill adults and children inside, then killed himself as police closed in.
16 of the 20 slain children
"He discharged to make an opening and then went through it, went to the first classroom ... went to the second classroom. We surmise that it was during the second classroom episode that he heard responders coming and apparently at that, decided to take his own life," Malloy said on the ABC show "This Week."
"This sick fellow, you know, clearly mentally ill, killed his mother, proceeded to go on and kill a great number of people," Malloy added.
Several Democratic lawmakers called for a new push for US gun restrictions on Sunday, including a ban on military-style assault weapons.
Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the author of an assault-weapons ban that lapsed in 2004, said she would introduce new legislation this week.
Gun rights advocates have countered that Connecticut already has among the strictest gun laws in the nation.
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