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Barack Obama: 'This is our first task: taking care of our children'

This is an edited extract from President Barack Obama's speech in Newtown on Sunday

You know, someone once described the joy and anxiety of parenthood as the equivalent of having your heart outside of your body all the time, walking around. With their very first cry, this most precious, vital part of ourselves, our child, is suddenly exposed to the world, and every parent knows there's nothing we will not do to shield our children from harm.

It comes as a shock when you realise that no matter how much you love these kids, you can't do it by yourself, that this job is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbours, the help of a community and the help of a nation.

This is our first task, caring for our children. If we don't get that right, we don't get anything right. That's how, as a society, we will be judged.

And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we're meeting our obligations?

I've been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we're honest with ourselves, the answer's no. Since I've been President, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by mass shootings, the fourth time we've hugged survivors, the fourth time we've consoled the families of victims.

We can't tolerate this any more. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.

In the coming weeks, I'll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have? Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?

Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?"