Social media erupted Friday with comments, tweets, and Facebook posts about the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which NBC reports at least 26 people have been killed, including 20 children.
President Obama addressed the "heinous" event at a press conference shortly after 3pm ET. "The majority of those who died today were children," he said, wiping his eyes. "Beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10-years-old. They had their entire lives ahead of them—birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers—men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner echoed the sentiment in a statement of his own: "The horror of this day seems so unbearable, but we will lock arms and unite as citizens, for that is how Americans rise above unspeakable evil...The House of Representatives--like every American--stands ready to assist the people of Newtown, Connecticut."
Tweets of condolence poured in from all corners of politics as news of the shooting became more clear in the early afternoon hours. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, who spoke to the press shortly after the president, tweeted a directive to the state:
Gov. Malloy has ordered US and #CT flags to half-staff in honor of today's victims in #Newtown— Governor Dan Malloy (@GovMalloyOffice) December 14, 2012.
While helplessness and shock marked the tweets of several politicians:
No words can console the parents of the children murdered at Sandy Hook. We share our prayers and our grief over these horrifying events.— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) December 14, 2012
God bless all those little children and families involved in today's shooting in CT. It's the definition of senseless.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) December 14, 2012
Horrified by the news coming out of Newtown. Praying for the safety of the innocents involved.— Jim Himes (@jahimes) December 14, 2012
Words are fruitless in the face of events like today's in Newtown. Praying for children and teachers and their families.— Jon Huntsman (@JonHuntsman) December 14, 2012
The conversation about gun control started early, with several prominent figures weighing in.
The way to honor these dead children is to demand strict gun control, free mental health care, and an end to violence as public policy.— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) December 14, 2012
Today is NOT the day to talk about gun control, Today is the day to finally DO SOMETHING about it! bit.ly/Xne2YuPLEASE RETWEET— Russell Simmons (@UncleRUSH) December 14, 2012
When we had prayer in school, we didn't need guns: youtu.be/sQqk9WzrZmA via @youtube— Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) December 14, 2012
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for President Obama to more forward on gun control. "The country needs [President Obama] to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem," he wrote in a statement. "Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership–not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response.”
Catholics United, a non-profit political organization, blamed President Obama's inaction for the uptick in gun violence: "As Catholics who support the social justice achievements of this President, we are disappointed in his lack of action in working to prevent these heinous acts of violence. We call on President Obama to find the courage to lead our nation and help bring a true and lasting end to gun violence," they said.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), a leading gun control advocate in the House, has said the "the gloves are off" if the president fails to act on gun control. “I agree, this is not the time to talk about [gun control],” she told Politico Friday. “It should have been talked about years ago when we started having these mass shootings. It should have been done when Gabby Giffords was shot.”
In his remarks, the president recalled a string of similar shooting incidents from the last few years: “Whether it’s an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago—these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
Despite this, the Obama administration has yet to propose any serious legislation targeting gun laws. As David Ingram of Reuters wrote today, "Faced with intense lobbying by the National Rifle Association and other gun groups, and fearful of a backlash from gun-owning voters, most Democrats have stopped trying to pass new laws."
Most social media reaction was simply consoling, and did not wade into political or legislative territory. Sen. Al Franken cancelled a Senate party planned for today in light of the shooting.
Tonight's Holiday Party is POSTPONED due to today's events in CT. All affected by this tragedy are in our thoughts and prayers.— Al Franken (@alfranken) December 14, 2012