(CNN) – Lawmakers responded with condolences and some called for stricter gun laws in the aftermath of Friday's mass shooting at a school in Newtown, Connecticut.
In one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history, a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday morning and opened fire on teachers and students. The dead include 20 children, six adults and the suspected shooter, who was apparently died by his own hand.
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In a rare display of emotion, President Barack Obama wiped away tears and paused to collect himself when responding to the shooting. Obama said "we've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years" and ordered flags be flown at half-staff "as a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated."
The White House cancelled the president's scheduled trip to Maine on Wednesday, and House Speaker John Boehner announced there would not be a Republican weekly address so "President Obama can speak for the entire nation at this time of mourning."
Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy told reporters outside the school Friday evening, "Evil visited this community today."
"It's too early to speak of recovery but each parent, each sibling, each member of the family has to understand that Connecticut, we're all in this together," he said. "We will get through it. This is a terrible time for this community and these families."
Rep. Chris Murphy, whose district includes Newtown, said he was "shocked and saddened by the horrific news." Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a retiring lawmaker from Connecticut, said as he and his staff monitor the situation his "prayers go out to all those affected by this tragedy," underscoring the importance of providing responders the resources needed to keep the community safe.
Rep. Ron Barber of Arizona, a victim in the Arizona mass shooting which also injured former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords last year, said "as those of us in Tucson know, senseless acts such as these tear at the very fabric of a community."
"In times like this, we come together to support each other. To the people of Newtown, we are with you today and in the days, weeks and months ahead."
One of the staunchest gun-control advocates, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed disbelief in a statement released by the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which he co-chairs.
"With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it's still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen," he said noting Obama's "heartfelt" response to the tragedy but calling for more than just rhetoric on gun-control legislation.
"This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever," he said.
Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said "our hearts are broken by this terrible tragedy."
"We have to take terrible moments like this and use it as a catalyst to demand the sensible change in our nation that is too long overdue. We are better than this," he said adding the group was "moved" by Obama's visible emotion during his remarks and "committed to working with him to channel it into the change that is too long overdue."
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said these types of shootings "are always incomprehensible and horrific tragedies."
"But words fail to describe today's heartbreaking and savage attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School," Duncan said. "As the father of two children in elementary school, I can barely imagine the anguish and losses suffered today by the Newtown community."
Sen. Marco Rubio from Florida, speculated to be mulling a run for the White House in 2016, released a statement condemning the shooting as "a deed of unconscionable evil."
"My heart breaks for the victims and families impacted by the senseless act of violence today in Newtown, Connecticut. In a world that can at times be defined by its darkness, children are a reminder of what is good, cheerful and beautiful about life," he said.
Religious leader Franklin Graham offered his prayers to the community of Newtown saying "senseless killings like the one we've seen today in Newtown, Conn., leaves us stunned and looking for answers."
"The Bible tells us the human heart is 'wicked' and 'who can know it?' My heart aches for the victims, their families and the entire community," he said. "One thing we can be absolutely sure of is that God loves each one of the victims and all those who are suffering right now as a result of this vicious act."
In giving their thoughts and prayers to the affect families, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said, "If there were ever a day to hug your child a little longer, a little close, today is the day."
"The loss of life and innocence is devastating, and I pray for healing for the entire Newtown community and our country."
As lawmakers sent their regards to the Newtown community, a leading children's advocacy group, Children's Defense Fund, held a vigil with individuals affected by gun violence outside of the White House.
At the vigil in Washington, U.S. Rep. Rosa Delauro, from Connecticut, told CNN the shooting was "unthinkable," adding that as she spends time with her grandchildren in Washington the tragedy "really hits so close to home."
"These beautiful angels who had so much to live for," she said of the children killed in the shooting. "It seems so senseless and, as I said, unthinkable that this could happen. But it has."
Two other vigils will be held Friday evening - one in Newtown and Hartford, Connecticut.
CNN's Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.
How long are we going to wait until these "Glock" guns are banned from normal sales. There is no reason for any human, other than police and servicemen to even have them. Please, please you must do some update to gun control to keep the last year of mass gun violence to get under control. You must listen to us, not the NRA , it is important to listen to those who voted you in and live in this day of violence....God Bless and lets put gun control on the table and actually do something to help these childen and families not to have died in vain.....God help the USA
The 2nd Amendment did not protect 20 citizens today all of them children. I'm all for the 2nd amendment but it is for protection and there must be regulations in place that meets that criteria. Assault weapons do not meet that criteria. Hunters, those who live on farms can give evidence of need of a certain type of weapon. One hand gun per adult meets that criteria. But not assult weapons.
I hope that all the necessary trauma and PTSD services are available for the survivors of this atrocity against so many innocents, young and old. They are going to need a tremendous amount of caring and healing.
Hug your kids, people, hug your kids and love them every day because we never know what the future could bring.
No where is safe while we let the NRA and the gun culture own our lives and our deaths. We are the murderers if we do nothing to force a disarming of our country.
The largest killing of school children was 38 by Andrew Kehoe. Bath School incident...he used explosives not a gun. People making rash uninformed decisions. Law makers and and Politicianstoday are creating more problems than they solve. Let try to find ways to stop people from wanting to kill each other.
The N.R.A. is not welcome at the table where this subject must be resolved. As a career Soldier, avid, amateur gunsmith, and collector of hunting weapons, I know and understand weapons. We can't control the weapons which have already been distributed. We can't control the sanity of those who obtain weapons. We can only control the capability of weapons we sell in the future and the rational applicability of those weapons for hunting, home defense, target shooting, and collection of historical weapons. These are the only logical uses of weapons for private citizens and the militia/tactical/zombie crap we've seen from the N.R.A. has planted the seed for these incidents. It's time to stop listening to the crazies and create laws that civilized nations need to reduce the risks of these events. Do it now and don't invite the N.R.A. to the meeting. They have no credibility.
My prayers go out to all who have been touched by this senseless tradgey...
I'm sorry to say this but...only someone who has never lost a child can talk of "recovery"..........there is NO SUCH THING!!.........you learn to go on with your life but that loss is always with you in your head and your heart...There is NO recovery!!!!
My whole day has been set upside down by this terrible, horrific, immense tragedy! I've followed it all day & the worst, which all of us monitoring the situation prayed for not to happen, has! It's hard to comprehend some1 heartlessly mowing down 20 babies, who were so well loved by their families & community! Today we just have to cry & grieve & as the President said, hug our kids & tell eachother "I love you"! Tomorrow we can discuss gun control & I think we must! The gunman was 20, a kid himself, no record & using legal guns, just like in the Colorado shooting! His parents are devastated as well! Tragedy all 'round! God Bless us all!!
Why hasn't the National Rifle Association chimmed in on this senseless tradgey? Because the NRA loves zero oversight on gun ownership and Congressional GOPers refuse to care or gave a damn. Again, the Republicans FAIL to fix a solvable serious problem in America. Never, never, never should a Republican be elected to office. Our hearts go out to these victims and their families, but the NRA and the GOP are in lock-step on keeping guns in the hands of insane people.
I wonder why the killer's mother had all those guns? One of those weapons was an assault rifle! Every aspect of this horrible tragedy is hard to wrap my mind around. I find it mind boggling that the killer's mother bought and registered all those guns. My heart goes out to the families of all the victims.
NO ONE needs an assualt weapon.
Except those in the military !
All talk but there is nothing that can restore these families to being whole. My prayers are with those grieving tonight.
Our hearts are bleeding for the families of Newtown,CT -
The time has come for America to: Give up their Right to Bear Arms!
Otherwise, it would be a nation living in perpetual fear.
Very sad but the nra continues to be the biggest lobbyist in congress. When will it end???
If lawmakers don't stand up to the NRA, the next demand may be for the rights of every red blooded American to carry rocket propelled grenade and anti-tank weapons in public like in Afghanistan and Iraq.
A 20 year old sick boy killed his mum, 20 young childeren and 7 other adults with the gun of his MOTHER! America go on the street and demand gun control now!
Im from ct. We have some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. Stricter laws will not prevent things like this,only being able to read minds would. No gun law can predict crazy or when a law abiding citizen may snap. As the dad of a 7 yr old special needs boy who could not have run or hidden from this demon opressed soul i have been literally bawling since 1130 fri for this loss. However,when guns are outlawed only oulaws will have guns.