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Obama vows to use 'whatever power this office holds' to prevent gun violence

The president spoke for nearly 20 minutes at an interfaith vigil for the victims of the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday. He praised the teachers who died trying to protect their students and those who kept their charges out of harm’s way. He comforted the bereaved families of the victims and the stricken community. And he admonished the nation for not doing enough to take care of its children.

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In a personal and emotionally powerful speech, Obama spoke of how his own experience as a father gave his life purpose and declared the nation’s highest purpose is the care and education of its youngest members.

The president did not specifically call for new gun-control legislation but signaled he would support an effort pledged by Democratic lawmakers to restrict the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity clips of ammunition.

“In the coming weeks I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens from law enforcement, mental health professionals to parents and educators in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this,” Obama said. “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?” he said, a reference to the common argument that unfettered gun rights are necessary to safeguard against government tyranny.

For more on the president's remarks, click here.