President Obama on Sunday night pledged the remainder of his presidency to taking steps to end the string of spree shootings that have scarred the nation’s consciousness in recent years.

Addressing both the grief-stricken Newtown, Conn., residents packed into a crowded high school auditorium and an outraged nation watching the televised speech at home, the president said tragedies like the shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults inside Sandy Hook Elementary must end.

“I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens,” the president said, “in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because, what choice do we have?

“Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage?” he said. “That the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited upon our children year after year is simply the price of our freedom?”

The president stopped short of describing specific legislation, but new gun-control measures are already coming together on Capitol Hill, where Democrats are promising action in the wake of the Friday massacre in Newtown, in which a 20-year-old man armed with three semiautomatic weapons broke into a school and executed two classrooms full of children and the adults who tried to protect them.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Sunday that she would introduce a bill to reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons on the first day of the next Congress in January as gun-control advocates pressure Mr. Obama to tackle the issue in the wake of the school massacre Friday.

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