The White House pledged Thursday that it would continue to fight for tighter gun controls six months after the Newtown massacre, as President Barack Obama prepared to meet with victims' relatives.
The White House had pushed for major reform in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were shot dead on December 14 before the gunman killed himself.
But a watered-down measure failed to gain Congressional approval in April, meaning that federal gun laws remain unchanged in the wake of the tragedy. Only a few states have tightened their gun laws.
"Today the president and vice president will meet with family members of victims of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.
"We commend the families' courage and perseverance in continuing to press for common-sense legislation to reduce gun violence," Carney said.
"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."
On Thursday, Newtown families were also expected to attend a ceremony at the US Capitol at which the names of the roughly 5,000 people killed in the United States by firearms since the Sandy Hook tragedy were to be read.
On April 17, the Senate rejected a measure that would have expanded background checks for gun buyers, bringing an effective end to legislation in which Obama had invested substantial political capital.
At the time, an angry Obama called the vote "a pretty shameful day for Washington," and accused lawmakers of caving in to the country's powerful firearms lobby.
"I believe we're going to be able to get this done. Sooner or later we're going to get this right. The memories of these children demand it," Obama later said in an email to supporters.
© AFP 2013