US President Barack Obama marked with a solemn candle-lighting ceremony the first year anniversary of an elementary school shooting in Connecticut, a tragedy that spurred him to seek greater gun controls that the US Congress rebuffed.
In the White House map room on Saturday, Obama and the first lady Michelle Obama lit 26 candles, one for each of the people killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown. The Obamas bowed their heads in a moment of silence and walked out together without speaking.
The White House’s commemorative event came as authorities in Colorado released more details about a shooting on Friday at a Denver-area high school in which the gunman killed himself after wounding a fellow student.
In Newtown, a church rang its bells 26 times to honor the 20 first-graders and six teachers killed last year by Adam Lanza. Lanza, 20, killed his mother before driving to the school that he had attended and embarking on the shooting spree. He then took his own life.
Other houses of worship in the Newtown area held private services observing the anniversary, though no formal public memorial was held, the Associated Press reported.
The massacre prompted Obama in January to introduce a package of proposals aimed at curbing gun violence, including bans on so-called assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
His proposals stalled in the US Congress. The Republican-led US House of Representatives declined to act on any of the measures and the Democratic-led US Senate failed to advance a bill aimed at expanding background checks of gun buyers.
The president mentioned the shooting in his weekly radio and Internet address on Saturday, saying, “We haven’t yet done enough to make our communities and our country safer. We have to do more to keep dangerous people from getting their hands on a gun so easily.”
In offering no legislative remedies, he said, “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.”
States dealt with gun policy differently in the shooting’s aftermath. Twenty-eight states this year enacted laws lifting some gun restrictions. Twenty-one states, including Connecticut and New York, expanded them.
In Colorado, two Democratic state senators were recalled by voters in September after supporting a background-check law.