Obama seeks gun law changes on Newtown anniversary

WASHINGTON DC, USA (UPDATED) – President Barack Obama on Saturday, December 14, marked the anniversary of the shooting of 26 people at Newtown school in Connecticut, by urging Americans to press for gun law changes to prevent similar dramas.

"One year ago today, a quiet, peaceful town was shattered by unspeakable violence," Obama said in his weekly radio address.

Six school workers and 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary school "were taken from our lives forever," he said.

"But beneath the sadness, we also felt a sense of resolve - that these tragedies must end, and that to end them, we must change."

On December 14, 2012, a heavily armed man identified as 20 year-old Adam Lanza entered the school and opened fire. In ten minutes he shot and killed 26 people before taking his own life.

The senseless slaughter of young children at the hands of a mentally disturbed individual shook the nation's conscience like no other mass shooting in years.

"We have to do more to keep dangerous people from getting their hands on a gun so easily," said Obama.

"We have to do more to heal troubled minds. We have to do everything we can to protect our children from harm and make them feel loved, and valued, and cared for."

Obama also emphasized that "we can't lose sight of the fact that real change won't come from Washington. It will come the way it's always come - from you. From the American people".

Respect for Newtown

Obama and First Lady Michelle lit 26 candles and observed a moment of silence in memory of the Sandy Hook victims.

Wearing black, the Obamas somberly lit candles for each of the victims at the Sandy Hook elementary school in the White House map room. They stood silently together for several moments and then walked out without making any remarks.

Earlier this week, the city's top official, Pat Llodra, asked for the still grieving families be given "the time to be alone and quiet, with time for personal and communal reflection."

The Newtown massacre provoked a push for gun control laws and a handful of states have since tightened rules.

But the nationwide measures the president supported failed in the US Senate in April, due to fierce opposition from gun rights supporters and a lack of support in both houses of Congress.

On Saturday, most major media organizations stayed away from Newtown, in respect of the town's wishes.

"We've reported a number of stories already -- all in a low-key, respectful manner -- and they'll run in conjunction with the anniversary. We do not plan to be in Newtown on the 14th," said New York Times communications director Eileen Murphy. Other news agencies made similar remarks.

On Friday, December 13, the eve of the Sandy Hook slaughter, a schoolboy in Colorado armed with a shotgun opened fire at his school and wounded two fellow students – one critically – before killing himself. (READ: New US school shooting on eve of Newtown anniversary)

The Arapahoe High School shooting took place a few miles from the sites of last year's Aurora cinema shooting, where 12 people were killed and scores wounded during a Batman movie, and the 1999 Columbine High School bloodbath, where 13 were killed as well as the two student gunmen. – Rappler.com