(Photo: REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin)
The families of the victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012, gathered in Washington D.C., six months after the tragedy to meet with White House officials, restarting the push for stricter gun control laws in America.
"We commend the families' courage and perseverance in continuing to press for commonsense legislation to reduce gun violence," White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Thursday at a press briefing.
"And we want them to know that, as we approach the six-month anniversary of that terrible day, we will never forget and we will continue to fight alongside them."
The families met with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday at the White House, asking for a renewed push for gun control, after a bipartisan amendment on gun laws that would have expanded background checks for gun purchases at gun shows and online failed to get enough votes in the Senate on April 17.
In December, 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza stormed into Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, killing 20 children and six adults, including the school's principal, before he took his own life. Earlier on the same day, he also killed his own mother, Nancy Lanza, who was described by a later investigation as a gun enthusiast who trained her son to use guns at a shooting range close to their home.
The tragedy prompted President Obama and many concerned citizens around America to call for a change to the nation's gun laws, though the National Rifle Association has opposed such measures and argued that gun control is not the way to tackle the problem. As a solution, the organization has proposed tighter security at schools and other public places.
"If it's crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our school to protect our children, then call me crazy," said Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the NRA. "I think the American people think it's crazy not to do it. It's the one thing that would keep people safe."
Carney told reporters at a previous press briefing on Wednesday that both Obama and Biden remain fully committed to reducing gun violence.
"The president made clear his deep disappointment with the decision of the minority of senators to flout the will of the vast majority of the American people – the majority of Republicans, Democrats and independents – in states across the country," Carney added.
Nicole Hockey, whose six-year-old son Dylan was among the victims at Sandy Hook, described the last six months both as the longest and shortest in her life at a press conference on Wednesday.
"Getting to this six month mark, it also just – we are committed, completely committed, to seeing this through... And the more time that goes by, in some respects, the stronger we're getting," Hockey said, according to CBS News.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that the gun control fight is not over, and that "it's only just beginning."
"The writing is on the wall. Background checks will pass the United States Senate. The only question is when," Reid offered.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), one of the authors of the background checks bill that failed at the Senate, met some of the Newtown families on Wednesday, and promised them that the issue will remain "on a front burner."
"As you meet with our fellow senators and anybody who might not have supported the bill in the past, if there is something we can do to clarify the language to make it better understood, to make clear of what our intent would be – if they will communicate that with you, it would help immensely," Manchin said, adding that he has asked for gun control legislation to be put up for a vote unattached to any other bills.