President Obama offers prayers for Sandy Hook victims and pledges to work on protecting children

NEWTOWN, Conn. - Speaking at an interfaith vigil for the victims of the school shooting in Newtown, President Barack Obama shared prayers on behalf of the nation and said the nation isn't doing enough to protect children.

"We can't accept events like this as routine," he said. "Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage?"

The president asked himself if enough is being done to protect all the children in this country.

"I've been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we're honest with ourselves, the answer is no," he said.

"In the coming weeks I'll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, mental health professionals, parents and educators in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this."

In private before the speech, the president told Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy that Friday was the most difficult day of his presidency.

The president said he is mindful that mere words cannot match the depth of the sorrow felt in Newtown. Twenty children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook elementary school Friday.

"All across this land of ours, we have wept with you," President Obama said.

This is the fourth trip of Obama's presidency to a grieving city in the aftermath of a mass shooting. The White House said he wrote his speech and edited it on the flight to Connecticut with speechwriter Cody Keenan, the same person who helped to write the speech the President delivered after the shooting in Tucson last year.

This speech was the fourth he delivered as President to a grieving community after a mass shooting.

"If there is even one step we can take to save another child, another parent, another child or another town from the grief that has visited Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek, Newtown or communities form columbine to Blacksburg before that, surely we have an obligation to try."

Funerals for three of the Connecticut school shooting victims are being planned for Monday and Tuesday.

Services for 6-year-olds Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto are being planned for Monday. The funeral for 6-year-old Jessica Rekos is Tuesday.

"We can't tolerate this anymore," Obama said. "These tragedies must end, and to end them we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law or set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that cannot be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this."

Before ending his speech, the president read the first names of each of the victims.