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Obama Meets With Families as Town Grieves for Victims

As the nation joined a Connecticut town in mourning the 20 children and six adults killed at an elementary school, President Barack Obama met privately with the families of the victims and the emergency workers who were first on the scene of the massacre.

Obama arrived in Newtown, Connecticut, two days after the tragedy and as authorities were still trying to piece together a motive for the second-deadliest mass shooting in the U.S.

The president also will address a memorial service at Newtown High School for the victims of the Dec. 14 killings. It marks the fourth time during his presidency he has gone to a city to console families after a lone gunman emptied magazines of ammunition into unsuspecting victims.

On the day of the slaughter, Obama made an emotional call for “meaningful action,” signaling that he may be prepared to push for stronger gun-control laws, an issue that didn’t get attention in his first term, even after three other high profile mass shootings. In the days since, members of his party and gun-control advocates have pressed him for specifics and urged him to take a concrete stand on the subject.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, faulted Obama for failing to act on an assault weapons ban and other restrictions, while congressional Democrats promised hearings and legislation.

Stricter Regulation

Bloomberg, co-chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, urged Congress to renew a 1994 ban on military-style firearms that expired in 2004. He called for improved databases to trace gun ownership, stricter enforcement of gun trafficking and more laws to prevent sales to criminals.

“We don’t need people carrying guns in public places,” Bloomberg said today on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’’ program. “That’s not what the founding fathers had in mind. It doesn’t add to anybody’s safety. Quite the contrary, it makes us have a much more dangerous society.”

Bloomberg is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said she’ll intensify her push to renew the assault-weapons ban that expired in 2004. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, who heads the Judiciary Committee’s panel on the constitution and civil rights, said he will hold hearings.

For Obama, expressing empathy and providing context in the midst of tragedy is becoming a familiar role.

Just five months ago, the president sought to comfort families after a mass shooting that left 12 dead at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado.

He traveled to Tucson, Arizona, on Jan. 12, 2011, for a memorial service after the Jan. 7 attempted assassination of then-Representative Gabrielle Giffords, where six were killed and 13 wounded. In his first year as commander-in-chief, Obama went to Fort Hood, Texas, for a memorial service for 13 people killed there by a U.S. Army psychiatrist.

Obama traveled to Newtown with Connecticut Representatives Rosa DeLauro and John Larson.

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