Response: Gun control, mental health treatment brought to forefront
Continued from D4

with a mental illness. “Where do you draw the line?” he asked, noting that there are some 400 known mental disorders. Yet, in Lanza’s case, they were not his guns. They were his mother’s. Nancy Lanza had visited firing ranges and the .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle, and the Glock and Sig Sauer handguns used in the school slaughter were registered to her. Connecticut lawmakers already are saying the upcoming legislative session will feature a slate of measures looking at gun control, as well as school security and mental health, in response to Newtown. One of those proposals, said state Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, is likely to be a call for a gun offender registry, similar to Megan’s Law for sex offenders. A number of gun shop proprietors and gun owners say such moves would do little to prevent the kind of massacre that happened at Sandy Hook. They fear gun control advocates will try to leverage the public’s anguish to constrict Second Amendment rights. “Americans have the right to defend themselves and gun control is not the answer,” said John Longhi, owner of John’s Firearms in Torrington. Thomas Imperati, owner of The Hunter’s Shop in Branford, said his business, which sells firearms only to dealers, doubled after the Newtown incident. But he made very clear his distress over the shootings. “I haven’t been able to sleep for three days, thinking about what this guy did,” Imperati said, referring to Adam Lanza. “There’s no … way he should have had access to a gun.” Judging by the speech Obama made in Newtown, as well as remarks since then, the White House is gearing up for a push to curb assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines. “The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing,” Obama said. “The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence doesn’t mean we can’t steadily reduce the violence.”

ABOVE: Newtown police officers grieve at a makeshift memorial outside of St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown. Several prayer services were held in memory of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.
Mia M. Malafronte/Special to the New Haven Register


It is now two days before Christmas, and our tears haven’t subsided. Every new detail, every sound bite, every photograph rips away the shaky veneer of normalcy and plunges us again into the dark thoughts and images of something too tragic to bear. These were children. These were guileless, innocent souls. Perhaps we must do two things at once: Give voice to our sadness while also pouring ourselves into acts of kindness and support that honor the dead. Thousands of people, if not hundreds of thousands, are doing so already. They’ve been at it since that Friday afternoon. Chicagoans brought golden retrievers for folks to pet; a New Haven art teacher who lives in Newtown built 27 wooden angels and placed them out on Church Hill Road; Beth Howard, an Iowa woman, and her friends baked more than 250 apple pies and brought them to town. “It might sound silly to say, ‘Hey, we are going to bake some pies and bring in the midst of this tragedy,’” Howard said, “but in a way, it’s the simplest gesture I think you can make.”

LEFT: The front of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 14.
Arnold Gold/ New Haven Register

The Facebook group R.I.P. Sandy Hook Elementary School Children elicited more than 1.1 million likes in less than 24 hours. A fund for the families of victims raised $1.35 million as of Tuesday night. People brought flowers, teddy bears and candles. Others donated Christmas trees. Generous, dedicated first responders around the state swarmed to help their brethren in Newtown, who saw things no person should ever have to see. There were vigils, far and wide. “We were looking for a sense of community, to feel a bond,” said Kris Cotton of Newtown, whose family left candles and gifts near the school the day after everything happened. “This is like the calm before the real dread. I’m here to

Aaron Ontiveroz/Digital First Media

Community members remember the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown.

Arnold Gold/New Haven Register

A home displays a “God Bless Sandy Hook” sign near the center of Newtown.

cope with the sorrow.” de Janeiro and Karachi, Pakistan. Molly Delaney stood outside St. John Some public remembrances were Episcopal Church with her two daughdirected at individuals. ters that weekend. “This is going to be a Young Jack Pinto’s teammates at the lifelong event to get on,” she said. Newtown Youth Wrestling Association In New Haven, 600 people gathered on dedicated their meet in Little Falls, N.J., the Green to grieve. to their fallen friend. The association “Being together is where we find our posted this comment on its Twitter feed strength for each other,” said Rabbi Herb about making the road trip on such a sad Brockman of Congregation Mishkan Isra- day: “Know what we found? Hugs and el in Hamden. ham/egg/cheese sandwiches.” Members of the Abdul-Majid Karim At Southern Connecticut State UniverHasan Islamic Center in Hamden talked sity, more than 100 students, faculty and about the power of prayer at their vigil. staff gathered to remember four of the “We believe that victims with conprayer is the most nections to the unipowerful force versity — alumni known to man and Dawn Hochsprung, “We must forgive like before. But I’m Mary Sherlach, today’s prayer vigil was an effort to pro- not sure if I’m there yet. The tears Anne Marie Murphy vide strength and and graduate stuare still fresh. The pain is still raw. support to all in dent Victoria Soto. But each tear shed brings us to a Newtown,” said There were 20 white place of greater compassion. Open Abdul-Majid Karim roses at the podium Hasan, resident yourself up to the pain so we can in honor of the slain imam of the center. children and six red heal.” Some 2,000 peoroses for the educa- The Rev. Mel Kawakami ple filled the park tors who died. outside City Hall in Some in the audiMilford, singing, torium shared memcrying and praying. ories of Soto’s “winMilford’s teacher of ning, mega-watt the year, Nikki Wayne, read the names smile,” and others talked about her comof the deceased. passion and spark. Mainly, they saluted “These are our children, the world’s a group of teachers whose courage and children,” Mayor Ben Blake said. “We unflinching love will be an inspiration are united.” for generations of others in their profesOn that first Sunday, many people sion. sought spiritual counsel as a way of findTheir actions at a quiet, little school in ing an anchor in the whirlwind of casConnecticut were more enduring than cading rage. any evil, said SCSU President Mary Papa“Joy? Joy? Do I want someone to come zian. Their actions showed “there is hope in here and talk to me about joy?” said because there is love and caring and sacMonsignor Jerald A. Doyle, administra- rifice.” tor of the Diocese of Bridgeport, at Mass Meanwhile, a phalanx of plumbers, at St. Rose of Lima. “I want someone to cops, electricians and teachers went validate my feelings of sorrow.” about the solemn task of turning Chalk Parishioners approached for Communion that day with tears streaming down Hill School in Monroe into a new home their cheeks. But the church’s Christmas for the kids of Sandy Hook Elementary pageant would go on, with rehearsals lat- School. They built plywood partitions to isoer that morning. late the crime scene areas in Newtown, At the Newtown United Methodist where investigators were working at Church, the Rev. Mel Kawakami spoke the school. That way they could start openly about his own struggle to navihauling out desks and chairs. A congate a sea of roiling emotions. “We’ve seen this before,” he said. “We tractor donated paint to make the new must forgive like before. But I’m not sure building look more like the kids’ old school. if I’m there yet. The tears are still fresh. Malloy signed an executive order The pain is still raw. But each tear shed waiving some state statutes to speed up brings us to a place of greater compassion. Open yourself up to the pain so we the move. The plan is to have Sandy Hook students settled in at Chalk Hill on can heal.” Jan. 2. Through the week, outpourings of “Our job is to facilitate a move and get sympathy and solidarity showered down those kids back in a building where they on Newtown. NBC’s “The Voice” paid tribute with a can start bringing back the normalcy in their lives,” said Al Barbarotta, a local rendition of the song, “Hallelujah.” The contractor helping with the move. New York City Children’s Choir sang Across from the entrance to Chalk Hill, “Silent Night” on “Saturday Night Live.” on a white picket fence, there’s already a There were vigils and tributes in New green banner with white letters, saying, York City’s Times Square, and in Los Angeles, Toronto, London, Glasgow, Rio “Welcome Sandy Hook Elementary.”

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