Earlier Sunday, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre rejected any call for gun control. "The problem is there weren't enough good guys with guns," LaPierre said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
The military leaders who spoke before Obama at the memorial service, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, avoided any mention of gun control as they remembered the victims as heroes. But Washington Mayor Vincent Gray spoke forcefully for action, mentioning that one of the Navy Yard victims, Arthur Daniels, had already lost his 14-year-old son to gun violence and citing the string of mass public shootings in recent years.
"Why is it that these tragic consequences and these tragic occurrences never seem to move us any closer to ensuring that guns don't get into the hands of criminals or mentally unstable people?" Gray asked. "I don't know the answer. But I do know this — that this time it happened within the view of our Capitol dome, and I for one will not be silenced about the fact the time has come for action."
The service ended with a bugler playing taps and singing of the Navy hymn after a reading of the names of the fallen, who ranged in age from 46 to 73 and included civilian employees and contractors. Eight people were also hurt, including a police officer and two others who suffered gunshot wounds.
Obama also mentioned each victim — describing them in turn for their love of their family, their service to their community and their passions, ranging from classic cars to the Washington Capitals hockey team.
"Once more our hearts are broken. Once more we ask, Why?" Obama said.
Associated Press writers Philip Elliott, Jessica Gresko and Stacy A. Anderson contributed to this report.
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