Three days after the mass killing in Newtown, Connecticut, the victims’ families and the townspeople are in anguish – shared across the country.
At the elementary school on Friday, 20 children were shot dead, and six women.
President Barack Obama on Sunday at the vigil in Newtown read out the names of the six-and-seven-year-olds to the nation.
The president referred to a passage from the Bible and said: “Let the little children come to me, Jesus said, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven: Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Dylan, Madeline, Chase, Anna, James, Grace, Emily, Jack, Allison, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Benjamin, Avielle, Catherine, Jesse.”
The 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who later took his own life too, armed with semiautomatic pistols and a semiautomatic rifle attacked the Sandy Hook Elementary School as the day began.
The principal Dawn Hochsprung is said to have left a conference room instantly and confronted the shooter head-on. The school psychologist, Mary Sherlach, went too. They were cut down.
Teacher Victoria Soto hid her pupils in a closet and saved them. When the attacker entered the classroom she told him they were at gym, before she died.
Among the next adults to be killed were Lauren Russeau, Rachel Davino, and Anne Marie Murphy.
Robbie Parker is father of Emily, one of the youngest victims.
He said: “She was just the type of person that could just light up a room. She always had something kind to say about anybody. She is an incredible person and I’m so blessed to be her dad.”
Sam was one of those kept behind closed washroom doors by his teacher Kaitlin Roig. He described it: “…a loud noise and then our teacher ran to the door and shut the door. Then we went all into the bathroom.”
Roig relates: “I said to them, I need you to know that I love you all very much and that it’s going to be okay because I thought that was the last thing we were ever going to hear.”
For 12 girls, eight boys and six teachers, the gunshots were the last sounds.
“Just back from from Newtown in our Washington bureau is our correspondent Stefan Grobe.
Stefan it’s not a big town and you were there, What were your personal feelings?”
“It was terrible, it was horrifying and meeting the people, you know the families of the victims, meeting the people who live there every day, who now have to cope with the very new reality. That’s was pretty tough.”
“How do you think that President Obama has dealt with it all?”
“I think he made a great speech last night. This is going to be Obama’s Gettysburg Address… you know the great and famous speech that Abraham Lincoln gave during the civil war… and he is right in the middle of a national conversation that has just started within hours after the shooting… the question is, how do Americans cope with this situation? It’s very interesting to see that Americans, over the last 20 years or so, have moved away from demanding stricter gun laws. In 1990, eight out of ten Americans were in favour of stricter gun laws, and in 2010 less than FOUR out of ten Americans wanted stronger gun laws.
“It’s sometimes difficult for Europeans, for people living of this side of the Atlantic Ocean, to fully understand the relationship that the ordinary American has with the gun. I think the feeling is here: ‘well, if there’s been an atrocity like this – and there have been many – Why do Americans still want keep their guns?”
“Well Jon, this is something that is deeply rooted in American life. And this goes back to the 2nd amendment of the Constitution. This is was established back in 1791. The US Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld this, saying that this actually protects the right of the individuals to possess firearms, within certain laws of course, and for a lawful purposes like having a gun for defence purposes in one’s home…
And another figure here that is interesting: this year in 2012 more than 16 million Americans applied for gun ownership. That is a record. And after every single shooting there is the tendency of Americans to rush to the gunshops and apply for guns because they feel unsafe. And I think this is going to be a conversation, a debate in this country that we’re going to see for the next (several) years probably, during Obama 2nd term and I think he is going to make this a cornerstone of his 2nd term.