Obama: 'Newtown, you are not alone' - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Obama: 'Newtown, you are not alone'

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President Barack Obama was in Newtown on Sunday night for an interfaith vigil at Newtown High School to remember the victims of a mass shooting inside an elementary school that left 20 children and six adults dead.

"Our world too has been torn apart," an emotional Obama said during the vigil. "We have wept with you. Newtown, you are not alone."

Obama offered his condolences on behalf of the nation to a community torn apart by 20-year-old Adam Lanza.

Before the vigil, Obama met with the families of victims and first responders to speak of the tragedy. Obama took pictures with families and their children and offered his condolences to all that had suffered a loss.

"We can't tolerate this anymore," Obama said. "These tragedies must end."

The 90-mintue vigil included several prayers, readings and speeches by religious and political leaders.

The Rev. Matt Crebbin explained why all the clergy and politicians sat with those who attended the event.

"We are in this together," he said.

Crebbin said he and the other clergy members were "here for all of Newtown."

"We needed this," he said. "We needed to be together."

A round of applause was given for the first responders as they entered the Newtown High School auditorium.

Distraught family members that packed the 1,600-seat auditorium could not hold in their grief as Obama read the names of those killed. He spoke of heroic teachers that did everything they could to spare as many children as possible from Lanza's rampage.

"God has called them all home," Obama said after reading the names of all of the children taken away from their families too soon.

Mourners inside the auditorium and those watching on TVs around the world said hearing the names hit home.

"It's not just names. It's not just a list," said Newtown parent Karen Rasmussen. "They are little kids. Hopefully we will take to heart what [Obama] said and the nation will learn."

Obama said we need to do better at protecting our children. He said that while no single law can eliminate evil, we all have an obligation to take any step we can to save a child or parent.

All members of the Connecticut delegation in Washington were present at the vigil.

Obama arrived in Connecticut with U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro and John Larson.

"I'm always reluctant about commissions, but I really believe we ought to have a national commission on violence," Sen. Joe Lieberman said. "These events are happening more frequently, and I worry that if we don't take a thoughtful look at them, we're going to lose the hurt and the anger that we have now."

Lieberman also discussed with reporters the restoration of a ban on assault weapons, which he said existed from 1994 to 2004. He added that licensed federal firearms dealers were good about background checks when selling firearms.

"But if you go into a gun show or you go and buy a gun from some antique dealer, you're not checked at all," he said.

Obama left Connecticut by 10:30 p.m., and Connecticut State Police said there was "sufficient security" for the presidential visit.

Sunday marks the fourth time Obama has visited an area ripped apart by mass shootings.

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