Schools reopen in Newtown, Washington talks gun control

Tue Dec 18, 2012 6:48pm EST
 
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By Edward Krudy and Peter Rudegeair

NEWTOWN, Connecticut (Reuters) - Most students returned to school in the shattered Connecticut community of Newtown on Tuesday for the first time since a gunman's rampage killed 26 people in an elementary school, reviving the gun control debate in Washington.

Breaking its silence for the first time since the shootings, the powerful gun industry lobby, the National Rifle Association, said it was "shocked, saddened and heartbroken" and was "prepared to offer meaningful contributions" to prevent such massacres.

Businesses also reacted. One retailer, Dick's Sporting Goods, pulled all guns from its store closest to Newtown and suspended the sale of certain semi-automatic rifles in its stores nationwide. A private equity firm said it would sell its investments in a gunmaker after pressure from a major teachers' pension fund.

Sandy Hook Elementary, where Adam Lanza gunned down 20 6- and 7-year-olds and six adults on Friday, remained closed. It was a crime scene on Tuesday, with police coming and going past a line of 26 Christmas trees, one for each victim, decorated with ornaments, stuffed animals and balloons in the school colors of green and white.

The rest of Newtown's schools reopened with grief counselors and police present, while two families buried their children.

"It's going to be awful, doing the things we used to do," said Miguel, 16, who stopped by a doughnut shop on his way to Newtown High School. "There's going to be a lot of tears."

The massacre shocked Americans even after a rash of mass shootings, prompting 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.

The NRA uses political pressure against individual lawmakers and others to press for loosening constraints on gun sales and ownership across the United States while promoting hunting and gun sports.   Continued...

 
Students on a school bus look at a memorial for the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut December 18, 2012. REUTERS/Joshua Lott