OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he couldn't bear to keep watching the news coverage over the weekend of the tragic school shooting in Connecticut.

In an interview with French broadcaster TVA, Harper calls the deaths a "great tragedy" that's almost impossible for anyone -- notably anyone with children of their own -- to comprehend.

He says it's worth remembering that Canada has a stronger, stricter gun control system than exists in the United States, even without the long-gun registry.

The Conservative government abandoned the registry earlier this year on the grounds it was a costly and ineffective affront to law-abiding gun owners.

Harper says Canada continues to require gun licences and that handguns and restricted weapons be registered.

He says the important thing is to have gun-control mechanisms that actually work.