White House readies gun-control plan as more children laid to rest

Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:18pm EST
 
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By Edward Krudy and Peter Rudegeair

NEWTOWN, Connecticut (Reuters) - President Barack Obama assigned Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday to find ways to curtail gun violence in America and try to avoid tragedies like the elementary school massacre in Connecticut, where the town buried one of its heroes on Wednesday.

With Newtown still in mourning from last Friday's shooting, when a 20-year-old gunman shot dead 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School and then himself, Biden took the assignment to produce recommendations and report back to Obama in time for the president's State of the Union address in late January.

Obama's initiative addressed national outrage over the shootings in Connecticut, which have prompted longtime gun-rights supporters to reconsider their positions and a major private equity firm to put its gun-making business up for sale.

Funerals or wakes were held for four of Newtown's children on Wednesday, as well as the school principal. Teacher Victoria Soto, who is credited with saving half her class of 6- and 7-year-olds by diverting the shooter and hiding the children in a closet, was also laid to rest.

"Vicki achieved in her 27 years what many of us will never achieve if we live to be a hundred," the Reverend Meg Boxwell Williams told the funeral service. "Her last act was absolutely selfless, Christ-like, laying down her life for her children."

Gunman Adam Lanza, 20, shot his mother at home and then killed 20 children and six adults at the school before shooting himself in the head, officials said.

Soto hid her students in a closet when she heard the shooting start early Friday morning, and when Lanza entered Soto's classroom she tried to throw him off by telling him the students were at the other end of the school in an auditorium, the Hartford Courant reported, citing unnamed law-enforcement officials.

Lanza shot six of the children when they tried to run, and police later found the remaining seven students still hiding in the closet, the Courant said. Those children told law enforcement officials what had happened, the Courant reported.   Continued...

 
Mike Garbowski of Newtown, Connecticut begins to erect a fence he built that will bear the names of all of those killed in the December 14 shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Sandy Hook village in Newtown, December 19, 2012. Six funerals for victims of the shootings were being held Wednesday in the Newtown area. REUTERS/Mike Segar