LAREDO, Texas: US Senator John McCain says the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech does not change his view that the Constitution guarantees everyone the right to carry a weapon.
"We have to look at what happened here, but it doesn't change my views on the Second Amendment, except to make sure that these kinds of weapons don't fall into the hands of bad people," McCain said on Monday in response to a question.
The Arizona Republican was campaigning in the Texas-Mexico border city.
"I do believe in the constitutional right that everyone has, in the Second Amendment to the Constitution, to carry a weapon," he said. "Obviously we have to keep guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens."
The Second Amendment reads: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
McCain and other presidential hopefuls issued statements expressing shock and grief over the attacks.
"As a parent, I am filled with sorrow for the mothers and fathers and loved ones struggling with the sudden, unbearable news of a lost son or daughter, friend or family member," read a statement by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican, called it a "day of national tragedy, when we lost some of our finest to a senseless act". Giuliani canceled all his campaign events for yesterday.
Democratic candidate John Edwards said in a statement: "We are simply heartbroken by the deaths and injuries suffered at Virginia Tech. We know what an unspeakable, life-changing moment this is for these families and how, in this moment, it is hard to feel anything but overwhelming grief, much less the love and support around you. But the love and support is there."
Republican candidate Mitt Romney said: "The entire nation grieves for the victims of this terrible tragedy that took place today on the campus of Virginia Tech. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the entire Virginia Tech community."
Democratic Senator Barack Obama said the nation is mourning the dead and praying for their families and for the wounded. "Today, we are a grieving and shocked nation. Violence has once again taken too many young people from this world."
An outpouring of horror filled US newspapers yesterday raising questions about gun regulations seen by some as too lax.
The New York Times called Monday's carnage "another horrifying reminder that some of the gravest dangers Americans face come from killers at home armed with guns that are frighteningly easy to obtain".
"It seems a safe bet that in one way or another, this will turn out to be another instance in which an unstable or criminally minded individual had no trouble arming himself and harming defenseless people," the paper's editorial said.
The Washington Post said it was "the deadliest mass shooting of civilians in American history".
"Young lives brimming with promise and possibility were cut short by that now familiar campus scourge: an aggrieved gunman, or gunmen, on a rampage," the Post wrote, referring to earlier incidents such as the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado in 1999.
"Under what circumstances, and where, did the gunman obtain his weapons?" the paper added. "And why are gunmen so apt to carry out their lethal rampages at American schools?"
The New York Times emphasized that Virginia imposes few restrictions on the buying of handguns and has weak gun licensing requirements.
"What is needed, urgently, is stronger controls over the lethal weapons that cause such wasteful carnage and such unbearable loss."
Source: China Daily/agencies