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Sandy Hook shooting: Obama asks, 'Are we doing enough to keep our children safe'?

President Obama spoke at a service Sunday evening in Newtown, Conn. He noted that it was the fourth time as president he's had to comfort victims of mass shootings. He promised to use 'whatever power this office holds' to prevent another tragedy of this kind.

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President Barack Obama looks down as he walks from the rostrum after speaking Sunday, Dec. 16, at an interfaith vigil held at Newtown High School for families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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 He spoke for a nation in sorrow, but the slaughter of all those little boys and girls left President Barack Obama, like so many others, reaching for words. Alone on a spare stage after the worst single day of his presidency, the commander in chief was a parent in grief.

"I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depth of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts," Obama said at an evening vigil in the grieving community of Newtown, Conn. "I can only hope that it helps for you to know that you are not alone in your grief."

The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday elicited horror around the world, soul-searching in the United States, fresh political debate about gun control and questions about the incomprehensible — what drove the suspect to act.

It also left a newly re-elected president openly grappling for bigger answers. Obama said that in the coming weeks, he would use "whatever power this office holds" to engage with law enforcement, mental health professionals, parents and educators in an effort to prevent more tragedies like Newtown.

"Can say that we're truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose? I've been reflecting on this the last few days," Obama said, somber and steady as some in the audience wept.

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