President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks during a memorial service for the victims and relatives of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 16, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-six people were killed when a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary and began a shooting spree. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
NEWTOWN, Conn. -- President Obama, citing Scripture and offering "the love and prayers of the nation" after a horrific school massacre, said Sunday the country must take action to protect citizens from gun violence.
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The president did not offer specific policies or mention proposals to limit access to high-powered weapons such as those used in Friday's killings and in previous mass shootings. Obama said he will use his office to address ways to prevent future attacks.
"I'll use whatever power this office holds to engage fellow citizens ... in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this," Obama said.
Obama first met privately with families of the 26 people slain at the school in Newtown, then addressed a packed gathering of mourners at a ceremony led by religious leaders from many faiths.
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Obama said that while no new laws "can eliminate evil from the world'' or prevent senseless violence, "if there's even one step that we can take to save another child ... surely we have an obligation to try."
Saying that "Scripture tells us, 'Do not lose heart,'" the president praised the heroism of teachers who protected their students.
"We gather here in memory of 20 beautiful children and six remarkable adults. They lost their lives in a school that could have been any school," Obama said.
The president recited each slain child's first name, then said: "God has called them all home. To those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on and make our country worthy of their memory."
Obama, noting this was the fourth time he traveled to the site of a mass shooting, said this latest act of violence raises "hard questions" for the nation as a whole.
Earlier on Sunday, Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance said the gunman brought multiple high-capacity magazines, holding 30 bullets each, to the school, and used a .223 Bushmaster assault rifle for most of the killings. Vance said the gunman had two handguns and used one of them to kill himself.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said the shooter decided to kill himself when he heard police closing in about 10 minutes into the attack.
Adam Lanza, 20, was identified by Vance as the gunman. His mother, Nancy, 52, was also killed at the home she shared with her son.