President Obama responded Friday to petitioners calling for more gun control, asking them for help in forging policies to help prevent shootings like the one that killed 20 children and six adults a week ago at an elementary school in Connecticut.
"I'm asking for your help to make a real meaningful difference in the lives of our communities and our country," Obama said in a video posted on the White House petition website.
The president pledged a plan over the next month that addresses education, mental illness, and cultural factors behind gun violence, as well as legislation to restrict access to assault weapons.
Hours after the White House released the video, Obama participated in a national moment of silence to honor those who lost their lives a week ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
On the White House Twitter feed, Obama wrote: "20 beautiful children & 6 remarkable adults. Together, we will carry on & make our country worthy of their memory. -bo."
In Newtown, as rain poured, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy gathered with other officials on the steps of the town hall church bells rang 26 times, once for each lost life. The gunman also killed his mother before the massacre, and himself afterward.
The bells also rang 26 times in Boston, at the Old North Church and at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End.
In the video posted on You Tube and the White House web site, Obama answered to a petition calling on the Obama administration "to produce legislation that limits access to guns. While a national dialogue is critical, laws are the only means in which we can reduce the number of people murdered in gun related deaths." The petition has nearly 200,000 signers.
"We hear you," Obama said, noting that he has assigned Vice President Biden to develop proposals by the end of January.
Obama expressed support for legislation to revive the assault weapons ban, restrict high-capacity ammunition clips, and close loopholes that allow some buyers at gun shows to avoid background checks.
Calling it a complex problem that demands many approaches, Obama also said a strategy must address school safety, mental illness, and "a culture that too often often glorifies guns and violence."
Once a plan is developed, Obama said, "I will do everything in my power as president to advance these efforts."
Obama also told petitioners he believes in the Second Amendment's individual right to own firearms, and "the fact is most gun owners in America are responsible." The president said he believes that, in the wake of the Newtown shooting, many of those owners are willing to support legislation that keeps guns away from people who should not have them.
Gun rights organizations, including the National Rifle Association, have questioned the effectiveness and constitutionality of gun control laws. The NRA has a news conference scheduled for Friday morning.
Gun owners have also submitted petitions to the White House in the wake of the Connecticut shooting, objecting to new gun control proposals.