Obama meets grieving families in Orlando: “Our hearts are broken, too”

US President says politicians opposed to gun control should visit grief-filled families affected by attacks

obama, biden, orlando

Barack Obama and Joe Biden carry bouquets to Orlando memorial | Photo: PA Images

US President Barack Obama has said that grieving parents in Orlando pleaded with him to stop the carnage that took their children’s lives.

Mr Obama yesterday consoled families of the victims of Sunday’s massacre at Pulse nightclub, in yet another visit to the scene of a mass shooting.

He then joined Vice President Joe Biden in laying flowers - 49 white roses, one in honour of each deceased victim - at a memorial.

As the US Senate inched closer to voting on gun control measures, Mr Obama urged Republicans to back limited restrictions on the sale of firearms.

“This debate needs to change. It’s outgrown the old political stalemates,” he said.

“The notion that the answer to this tragedy would be to make sure that more people in a nightclub are similarly armed to the killer defies common sense.  

“Those who defend the easy accessibility of assault weapons should meet these families and explain why that makes sense.  

“They should meet with the Newtown families, some of whom Joe [Biden] saw yesterday - whose children would now be finishing fifth grade - on why it is that we think our liberty requires these repeated tragedies.  

“That's not the meaning of liberty.”

'We stand with you'

Mr Obama said the families of victims had asked him: "Why does this keep happening?" Their grief, he said, was “beyond description”.

"They don’t care about the politics. Neither do I.  Neither does Joe.  And neither should any parent out there who’s thinking about their kids being not in the wrong place, but in places where kids are supposed to be."

Through their pain, the families nonetheless remembered the joy their loved ones had brought to their lives, he added.

“They talked about their sons or their daughters - so many young people, in their 20s and 30s; so many students who were focused on the future.  One young woman was just 18 years old.  Another, said her father, was a happy girl with so many dreams.

“There were siblings there talking about their brothers and their sisters and how they were role models that they looked up to.  There were husbands and wives who had taken a solemn vow; fathers and mothers who gave their full hearts to their children.  

“Today, the Vice President and I told them, on behalf of the American people, that our hearts are broken, too, but we stand with you and that we are here for you, and that we are remembering those who you loved so deeply.”