Comfort dogs receive attention from two women near a
memorial for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting
victims in Newtown, Connecticut. REUTERS/Joshua Lott
Even as they buried more victims of the second-deadliest
school shooting in US history, residents of Newtown,
Connecticut, looked for ways to pressure national leaders to
restrict access to weapons.
Funerals were scheduled for half-dozen people, some as young
as 6 years old, who were shot and killed on Friday by a
heavily armed 20-year-old man who attacked an elementary
school with an assault rifle.
Hundreds of mourners packed into a Thursday morning funeral
for Benjamin Wheeler, 6, filing into the gray stone Trinity
Episcopal Church past two rows of Boy Scouts who lined up
outside as a flag-bearing honor guard.
The Dec. 14 rampage in which 28 people were killed, including
20 children and the gunman, has sparked new discussion on
tightening gun laws, a thorny political issue in the United
States, which has a strong culture of individual gun
Vice President Joe Biden plans to convene on Thursday the
first meeting of a new White House task force charged by
President Barack Obama with drawing up a plan to tackle gun
violence in the United States.
After the White House meeting convened by Biden, Attorney
General Eric Holder is to travel to Newtown to meet privately
with law enforcement officials investigating the massacre.
The National Rifle Association, the powerful firearms lobby
which has long resisted any effort to restrict gun ownership,
signaled this week it may be ready to bend. It said it would
offer "meaningful contributions" to prevent future such
massacres at an event in Washington on Friday.
The group, which kept silent for five days after the
shooting, plans to continue its media push over the weekend
with its CEO, Wayne LaPierre, due to appear on the television
talk show "Meet the Press" on Sunday.
In Newtown, a few dozen residents met at the town library on
Wednesday night to discuss ways they could influence the
national debate. Senator Richard Blumenthal told the group it
was time for a "seismic change" in gun policies.
"This horrific tragedy has changed America, in the way that
it is ready to stop the spread of gun violence," Blumenthal
The shooter, Adam Lanza, used guns that were legally
purchased and registered to his mother Nancy, his first
victim in Friday's attack.
A funeral home outside Connecticut plans to claim her body,
The New Haven Register reported, citing Connecticut's chief
medical examiner, Dr. H. Wayne Carver II.
Speaking at the town library meeting, Connecticut
Senator-elect Chris Murphy urged the participants to use the
formerly quiet suburb's time in the national spotlight to
pressure lawmakers in Washington to act.
"The most important thing is to build a movement here, to
build a network," Murphy told the group, Newtown United. Both
Murphy and Blumenthal are Democrats.
Democrats in Congress who favor gun control have called for
quick votes on measures to ban assault weapons or
high-capacity magazines, hoping that the slaying of the 6-
and 7-year olds in Newtown might be a tipping point to win
over more lawmakers.
The backlash against guns has not been limited to lawmakers.
Retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc took down an
informational website about Bushmaster rifles, the sort used
in the attack. Dick's Sporting Goods pulled all guns from its
store closest to the massacre in Newtown, about 80 miles (130
km) northeast of New York City.
Private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP this week
said it would sell the Freedom Group, the largest US
manufacturer of firearms, which produced the Bushmaster
AR-15-type rifle used in the attack.
The town's post office has been overwhelmed with thousands of
letters and packages sent by well-wishers.
"We have a lot of experience in the delivery of love,"
Christine Dugas, a spokeswoman for the US Postal Service,
said on CNN.