Newtown School Massacre Pushes Gun Control Debate Back Into Limelight
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The horrifying massacre of at least 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday has reignited a conversation on gun control.
Adam Lanza, 20, is suspected of killing a total of 27 people, including himself, shortly after 9 a.m., CBS News reported. Earlier reports naming his brother Ryan Lanza, 24, as the suspect were incorrect. Ryan Lanza was being questioned by police in Hoboken on Friday night, but officials said he likely had no connection to the rampage.
WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb: Mayor Bloomberg Is Livid
The death toll made the massacre the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. Authorities said 20 children, six adults and the gunman were killed at the school. Lanza’s mother, Nancy, who was found dead in her home not far away.
“It’s alarming, especially in Newtown, Conn., which we always thought was the safest place in America,” said Stephen Delgiudice, whose 8-year-old daughter was in the school at the time of the massacre, but escaped unharmed.
A law enforcement source told CBS News two pistols, a Sig Sauer 9mm and a Glock 9mm, were found in the school and a Bushmaster .223 assault rifle was found in a nearby car. A trace showed that the guns were legally purchased and registered to Adam Lanza’s mother.
An emotional President Barack Obama called the shootings a “heinous crime.”
“We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years,” Obama said. “I know there’s not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.
“They had their entire lives ahead of them: Birthdays, graduation, weddings, kids of their own,” said Obama, visibly moved. “Our hearts are broken today for the parents, grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children and for the families of the adults who were lost.”
“As a country we have been through this too many times,” Obama continued. “Whether it’s an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Chicago, or a street corner in Chicago. These neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children. We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
As CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a long-time gun advocate who started “Mayors Against Guns,” which now has more than 700 members. He has been lobbying for:
* Renewal of the assault weapon ban that expired in 2004.
* Required background checks for every gun sold right now — 40 percent of all guns are sold without background checks.
* Stronger enforcement of straw sales, where someone buys a gun for someone not eligible to own one.
* And a requirement that states enter criminal and mental health records into the federal background check system.
“With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it’s still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen. It has come to that,” Bloomberg said. “Not even kindergarteners learning their A,B,Cs are safe.”
After the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colo., Mayor Bloomberg met with a survivor of that shooting to discuss gun violence. Bloomberg also called out President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney during the election to clarify their stances on gun control and get specific about their plans to reduce gun violence. On Friday, he reiterated his stance.
“We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were 5-year-olds,” Bloomberg said. “President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever.”
The National Rifle Association issued the following short statement:
“Until the facts are thoroughly known, NRA will not have any comment.”
New York Sen. Charles Schumer seemed to sum up the feelings of much of the country.
“The horror of what happened is beyond words and leaves a permanent lump in your throat. To senselessly lose so many innocent lives breaks your heart,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY). “Perhaps an awful tragedy like this will bring us together so we can do what it takes to prevent this horror from being repeated again.”
Added Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ): “This is a day of great sadness in America, and our hearts go out to the victims and their families. This latest shooting tragedy is an unthinkable act of violence carried out against young children and innocent people. Americans are sick and tired of these attacks on our children and neighbors and they are sick and tired of nothing being done in Washington to stop the bloodshed. If we do not take action to address gun violence, shooting tragedies like this will continue. As President Obama said, we must act now ‘regardless of the politics.’”
Saying he was “absolutely horrified” by the shooting, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said the shooting makes it clear that gun control policies in America need to be reconsidered.
“Yet another unstable person has gotten access to firearms and committed an unspeakable crime against innocent children. We cannot simply accept this as a routine product of modern American life,” Nadler said. “If now is not the time to have a serious discussion about gun control and the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our society, I don’t know when is. How many more Columbines and Newtowns must we live through?”
Here is a look at some of the other worst mass shootings ever:
— Aug. 5, 2012: Army veteran Wade Michael Page killed five men and one woman and wounds three other people, including a police officer, before taking his own life at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin outside Milwaukee.
— July 20, 2012: 12 people were killed when a gunman enters an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, released a canister of gas and then opened fire during opening night of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.” James Holmes, a 24-year-old former graduate student at the University of Colorado, has been charged in the deaths.
— March 11, 2012: 16 Afghan villagers, including nine children, were killed during a predawn attack in which Army prosecutors have charged Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 39.
— July 22, 2011: Confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 in Norway in twin attacks: a bombing in downtown Oslo and a shooting massacre at a youth camp outside the capital. The self-styled anti-Muslim militant admitted to involvement in both attacks.
— Jan. 8, 2011: A gunman killed six people and wounded 13 others, including then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in a shooting spree outside a grocery store in Tucson, Ariz. Doctors say Jared Lee Loughner, who has been sentenced to life in prison, suffers from schizophrenia.
— Nov. 5, 2009: 13 soldiers and civilians were killed and more than two dozen wounded when a gunman walked into the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, Texas, and opened fire. Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.
— April 30, 2009: Farda Gadyrov, 29, entered the prestigious Azerbaijan State Oil Academy in the capital, Baku, armed with an automatic pistol and clips. He kills 12 people before killing himself as police close in.
— April 3, 2009: A 41-year-old man opened fire at an immigrant community center in Binghamton, N.Y., killing 11 immigrants and two workers. Jiverly Wong, a Vietnamese immigrant and a former student at the center, killed himself as police rushed to the scene.
— March 10, 2009: Michael McLendon, 28, killed 10 people — including his mother, four other relatives, and the wife and child of a local sheriff’s deputy — across two rural Alabama counties. He then killed himself.
— Sept. 23, 2008: Matti Saari, 22, walked into a vocational college in Kauhajoki, Finland, and opens fire, killing 10 people and burning their bodies with firebombs before shooting himself fatally in the head.
— Nov. 7, 2007: After revealing plans for his attack in YouTube postings, 18-year-old Pekka-Eric Auvinen killed eight people at his high school in Tuusula, Finland.
— April 16, 2007: Seung-Hui Cho, 23, killed 32 people and himself on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va.
— April 26, 2002: Robert Steinhaeuser, 19, who had been expelled from school in Erfurt, Germany, killed 13 teachers, two former classmates and policeman, before committing suicide.
— April 20, 1999: Students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, opened fire at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., killing 12 classmates and a teacher and wounding 26 others before killing themselves in the school’s library.
— April 28, 1996: Martin Bryant, 29, burst into cafeteria in seaside resort of Port Arthur in Tasmania, Australia, shooting 20 people to death. Driving away, he killed 15 others. He was captured and imprisoned.
— March 13, 1996: Thomas Hamilton, 43, killed 16 kindergarten children and their teacher in elementary school in Dunblane, Scotland, and then killed himself.
— Oct. 16, 1991: A deadly shooting rampage took place in Killeen, Texas, as George Hennard opened fire at a Luby’s Cafeteria, killing 23 people before taking his own life. Twenty others were wounded in the attack.
— June 18, 1990: James Edward Pough shot people at random in a General Motors Acceptance Corp. office in Jacksonville, Fla., killing 10 and wounding four, before killing himself.
— Dec. 6, 1989: Marc Lepine, 25, burst into Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique college, shooting at women he encountered, killing nine and then himself.
— Aug. 19, 1987: Michael Ryan, 27, killed 16 people in small market town of Hungerford, England, and then shot himself dead after being cornered by police.
— July 12, 1976: Edward Charles Allaway, a custodian in the library of California State University, Fullerton, fatally shot seven fellow employees and wounded two others.
— Aug. 20, 1986: Pat Sherrill, 44, a postal worker who was about to be fired, shoots 14 people at a post office in Edmond, Okla. He then killed himself.
— July 18, 1984: James Oliver Huberty, an out-of-work security guard, killed 21 people in a McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro, Calif. A police sharpshooter killed Huberty.
— Aug. 1, 1966: Charles Whitman opened fire from the clock tower at the University of Texas at Austin, killing 16 people and wounding 31.
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