12/17/2012 13:32 EST | Updated 02/16/2013 05:12 EST

U.S. school shooting carnage 'unacceptable,' says Blair

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair says the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults should spark a discussion about enhanced gun control both in the United States and in Canada.

"I think they as a society, but also all of us, have a responsibility to make a decision on whether we love our kids more than we love our guns," Blair said at a news conference about an alleged international abduction.

His comments come one day after U.S. President Barack Obama said he would do everything in his power to engage citizens and officials in the coming weeks to help prevent further tragedies.

Eight boys and 12 girls — all six or seven years old — as well as six staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School died when a gunman burst into the school Friday and opened fire, marking the second-deadliest shooting in U.S. history behind Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., in 2007.

Connecticut police have confirmed the identity of the gunman as Adam Lanza, 20. They said before he committed the shootings at the school, he had also shot and killed his mother, Nancy Lanza.

Responsible gun ownership and effective gun control are important aspects of community safety, said Blair. With respect to the shooting, he said there were also mental health issues at play.

"When people who are suffering from serious mental illness have access to enormous firepower — you know, assault rifles with large capacity magazines — the damage that they can inflict is just unacceptable," he said.

"Effective gun control makes our community safer."