Mourners attend the funeral service of teacher Victoria Soto, a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, outside Lordship Community Church, in Stratford, Connecticut. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
The White House has revealed the first steps of a gun-control
plan as the United States grieves for victims of the Sandy
Hook Elementary School massacre in another wave of funerals.
President Barack Obama's initiative addressed national
outrage over the shootings in Connecticut, which prompted
longtime gun-rights supporters to reconsider their positions
and a major private equity to put its gunmaking business up
The funerals scheduled for Wednesday (local time) included
those of four children, a teacher and the principal of the
school stormed by 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza on Friday.
After killing his mother at home, Lanza drove to the school
and used a semi-automatic assault rifle to kill 20 children
and six women.
Obama tapped Vice President Joe Biden to lead an effort to
craft policies to reduce gun violence. Specific steps Biden
recommends will be unveiled in Obama's State of the Union
address, which is typically given towards the end of January,
but Obama indicated some priorities.
"We're going to need making access to mental health at least
as easy as access to a gun," Obama told reporters.
He said he hoped the powerful gun-industry lobby, the
National Rifle Association, would reflect on the tragedy as
it anticipates Biden's recommendations.
"The vast majority of responsible law-abiding gun owners
would be some of the first to say that we should be able to
keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few from buying a weapon
of war," Obama said.
Biden's leadership of the task force was applauded by New
York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a long-time gun control
advocate, who urged immediate steps such as appointing a new
director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, a
federal crackdown on illegal gun purchases, and the lifting a
federal gag order that keeps the public in the dark about gun
"The task force must move quickly with its work, as 34
Americans will be murdered with guns every day that passes
without common sense reforms to our laws," Bloomberg said in
The massacre of so many children in Connecticut, all of whom
were just 6 or 7 years old, shocked the United States and the
world and renewed debate over gun control in a nation where
the right to bear arms is protected by the Constitution and
fiercely defended by many.
Around the globe, newspaper editorials from the Philippines
to South Africa urged US gun-control efforts and said they
were long overdue.
"It takes no great deductive genius to understand the link: a
violent individual with a gun will be more able to kill, and
can kill more people, than a violent individual without a
gun. Elsewhere in the world, tighter gun laws have been shown
to save lives," said an editorial in the Indian newspaper,
After the shooting spree at the school in Newtown,
Connecticut, Lanza killed himself.
The family of the school's slain principal, Dawn Hochsprung,
invited mourners to visit at a local funeral home on
Wednesday afternoon, though her burial was due to be private
at an undisclosed time.
Another of the teachers, Victoria Soto, was among those to be
buried on Wednesday.
At the funeral of Daniel Barden, 7, a bagpipe played "America
the Beautiful" as hundreds of police officers and
firefighters, some from New York City and distant towns,
lined the driveway outside the service. The little boy loved
his family, riding waves at the beach, playing drums,
foosball, reading, and making s'mores around a bonfire at his
grandfather's house, said an obituary in the Newtown Bee
Funerals also were scheduled for Charlotte Bacon and Caroline
Previdi, both 6, and Chase Kowalski, 7.
Across the nation, Americans joined Newtown's grieving, one
woman travelling from Iowa to bake and deliver apple pies to
residents, another woman from outside Albany, New York,
posting daily to Facebook the latest of 26 watercolour flower
paintings she is creating, each with a different victim's
"I wanted to memorialize the victims," said artist Pamela
Hollinde, 60, of Delmar, New York, who also substitute
teaches at an elementary school. "In a way, it's therapy for
me too. I'm having a difficult time. Our students are our
While most students in Newtown were back at school on
Wednesday, the surviving children from Sandy Hook Elementary
stayed home as school authorities made plans to relocate to a
different location - the unused Chalk Hill School in nearby
Monroe - when classes resume in January after the winter
The impact of the shooting was felt in the business world on
Tuesday when private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management
LP said it would sell its investment in the company that
makes the AR-15-type Bushmaster rifle that was used by Lanza.
The NRA gun lobby broke its silence on Tuesday for the first
time since the shootings, saying it was "prepared to offer
meaningful contributions" to prevent such massacres. A news
conference was called for Friday.
The massacre prompted some Republican lawmakers to open the
door to a national debate about gun control, a small sign of
easing in Washington's entrenched reluctance to seriously
consider new federal restrictions.