President Barack Obama stepped up to the role of national leader amid national mourning for the appalling schoolroom massacre in Connecticut and hinted at a possible effort to regulate ownership of guns.
“We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics,” he said Friday afternoon in the White House press briefing room.
That pitch stuck out from his overall message, which empathized emotional support for parents and other Americans horrified by the pitiless murders of children and adults.
“They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own,” he said.
“Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fill their dreams, so our hearts are broken today.”
Obama linked the Connecticut shooting to recent shootings in Aurora, Colo., and to growing gang violence in his adopted hometown of Chicago, Ill.
But any political response will be complicated by the Constitution’s rights for gun owners, and by the curbs on gun ownership already in place in Illinois and Connecticut.
Gun-control groups applauded Obama’s political signal.
“We were moved by President Obama’s raw emotion during his remarks today,” said a statement from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “We are committed to working with him to channel it into the change that is too long overdue,” the gun-control group said.
Earlier, White House officials had been careful to avoid the appearance of political ambition.
When asked today about the administration’s policy on gun-control, White House spokesman Jay Carney, said this morning that “the day for this will come, but this is not the day.”
In 1995, President Bill Clinton used the Oklahoma bombing to recover his political clout, which had been crushed by the GOP’s sudden November 1994 capture of the House majority after 40 years in in minority.
Obama, too, has been able to gain from disaster.
His 2012 reelection campaign was aided by the late October Hurricane Sandy storm in New Jersey and New York, where more than 250 people were killed by the floods and related accidents.
Obama’s much-televised leadership response to the story prompted 42 percent of late-deciding voters to pull the level for the president, according to an exit poll conducted by the Republican National Committee.