Obama addresses Newtown, “Can we say we are powerless in the face of such carnage?”

Last night, Obama eloquently addressed Newtown, CT and the nation, after the horrifying shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school last Friday. He asked, “can we honestly say we are doing enough to keep our children safe from harm,” concluding, no, we are not doing enough. After recounting the four times we’ve come together during his presidency around a mass shooting, he said, things have to change, “These tragedies must end and to end them we must change.” He acknowledged that no single law or set of laws will stop tragedies and atrocities all together, but we can at least try, in fact, it is our duty to try.


It is a compelling and important speech, but we’ll have to work together to hold him accountable to actually make the changes we need. While pro-gun blowhards are claiming Obama’s speech is “politicizing this tragedy,” he actually barely said what he needed to say about gun violence.

Irrespective, of how you and I feel or what our personal politics might be, it’s time to make some common sense conclusions based on the information we have on hand about gun violence rates and access to arms. As Adam Gopnick writes in the New Yorker,

Gun massacres have happened many times in many countries, and in every other country, gun laws have been tightened to reflect the tragedy and the tragic knowledge of its citizens afterward. In every other country, gun massacres have subsequently become rare. In America alone, gun massacres, most often of children, happen with hideous regularity, and they happen with hideous regularity because guns are hideously and regularly available.

It is time for a non-partisan movement to keep our communities safe and do what we can to reduce the rate of gun violence in the world–end of story.

On another note: I really appreciated these beautiful words from Adrienne Maree Brown. Mourning something this horrifying is never easy and it brings out so many different feelings and reactions including desire to blame someone, own the pain, disavow it, or accuse people of inappropriately reacting to it. Watching people fumble and get upset on twitter and Facebook is telling of this difficulty, but I’m going to sit with what Obama said–“if we are not protecting our children, we are not doing anything right” and move forward from there.

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/tariq/ daria

    it’s strange how the bombings and shootings that result in many deaths that happen in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Libya, Yemen, etc do not horrify him as much. oh wait, it’s not- he supports or perpetuates those attacks and this speech is really just hypocritical.

  • http://feministing.com/members/femrad/ Kara

    This reminds me a bit of when former President Clinton admonished the American People to be more charitable in lieu of using his presidential powers to advance the status of the poor.
    I agree that grass roots efforts usually do more to perpetuate change than anything politicians do, still the reason we have high offices and elections is so that the more powerful and influential among us can expedite wide spread change by speaking and acting on our behalf.
    I think it is an excuse for inaction to say that all the onus be put on the citizens.
    I also agree with a previous post that the President, as well as those before him, have practiced hypocrisy when it comes to the use of brute force to solve problems.