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CBS News Correspondent On Newtown: ‘There Isn’t A Gun Culture Here’

Newtown, Conn.

Shops in Newtown, Conn., after the elementary school massacre. (Credit: CBS 2)

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NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Newtown, Conn., is a quaint and quiet New England community, and on Saturday morning, the town was trying to understand how the horrific massacre that killed 20 children and eight adults at an elementary school could have happened.

The town is described as Norman Rockwell-esque, and normally free of violence, CBS 2’s Mike Magnoli reported.

“There was a bit of magical insulation or a feeling of tragedy won’t happen here,” one resident said, “And now it has. And unfortunately, I think it’s going to define this town.”

CBS News Correspondent Margaret Brennan grew up in the area. She told CBS 2’s Rob Morrison that while working in Washington, D.C., on Friday, she called family members to find out where they were. Some of the children in area schools were on lockdown.

Newtown was not a place that Brennan expected a mass-shooting might happen.

“There isn’t a gun culture here,” she said. “It’s one of those small, New England towns you go to to avoid the city, and things like this don’t happen.”

Brennan, who grew up in nearby Danbury, described Newtown as a “classic New England town.”

“It’s got one main street – it’s got a town center, a flagpole; that classic sort of New England village feel,” she said. “There’s one funeral home. There are 27 lives to put to rest now, and the surrounding towns have really reached out – you know Bethel, you know some of the surrounding towns – they’ve shut down some of the activities for kids for the weekend because people are just trying to regroup.”

In the wake of the massacre, many children were afraid to return to school at all, Brennan said.

“There are many kids who don’t want to go to school and do anything. My sister, who I was talking to, is terrified to leave her little girl at daycare,” she said. “There’s a sense of shock that this could happen.”

Brennan said many residents were most shocked that even though all mass-shootings are horrifying no matter where they occur, until now they always happened far from home.

“It’s out in a place where people do see guns visibly; where there is more of a culture of that. It doesn’t often happen in such a small community like this, and so it is truly shocking,” she said.

But residents realized it was not about where it happened, but those who suffered the losses.

“They keep saying on the TV, ‘Newtown is such a nice town,’” a resident said. “It doesn’t matter, nice town, not a nice town — it could happen anywhere.”

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