Newtown residents say "enough is enough" after tragedy

NEWTOWN, Connecticut Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:48pm EST

People light candles at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut December 17, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

People light candles at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut December 17, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer

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NEWTOWN, Connecticut (Reuters) - Residents of Newtown gathered on Monday to share ideas on how, after the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the small Connecticut town can escape the designation of "just another site" of a school shooting in America.

The group, calling themselves Newtown United, said they hoped that as long as the country's eyes stare mournfully on this sleepy town, something powerful could come of the shooting on Friday that left 20 first graders, and six teachers and administrators, dead.

Most of all, they talked about guns. And their discussion showed that Newtown, like the rest of the United States, has a long way to go to reach consensus.

"I would like, when you think of Sandy Hook, you think, 'Oh, that's where they banned assault weapons," said John Neuhoff, a retired painting conservateur who lives in Newtown. "If we can ban fireworks, we should be able to ban assault weapons."

Neuhoff said his 13-year-old daughter had volunteered to launch a petition drive.

Newtown United was formed on Sunday night, two days after 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother at their Newtown home and then drove five miles to the elementary school, where he opened fire on classrooms of first graders before turning the gun on himself. About 55 people attended Monday's meeting.

"There's a big feeling of helplessness, at least for me," said Lee Shull, one of the group's organizers. "There's been so much media attention, and part of this is to take advantage of that ... We need to turn this into something positive."

No major reforms followed mass shootings in Tuscon, Arizona, and Aurora, Colorado, and Shull said he feared the same for Newtown. "Enough is enough," he said of the shootings.

Others suggested creating a public gun-owner registry and restricting the amount of ammunition a person can purchase. Several said they planned to join the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence's rally on Tuesday in Washington.

Still, while most of the residents had come to talk about guns or the need for better mental health services for troubled teens, others objected to what they suggested was an overly assertive and political response to the tragedy.

One man suggested a better response would be to encourage neighbors to smile and shake hands when passing one another on the street, while others bristled at the idea that residents would step head-first into the polarizing U.S. debate over guns.

"Our hearts are broken wide open. If we go into the old battles and divisions, I'm afraid that's going to keep us from being Newtown United. We need to come together and say it's possible," said Ben Roberts.

Many echoed President Barack Obama, who visited Newtown on Sunday and declared that America had failed to protect its children from harm. But they noted that Obama has repeatedly stopped short of issuing an explicit call for gun control or reform that would curtail gun owners' rights.

At the gathering in Newtown, many said it was time for their community, still reeling from tragedy, to take matters into their own hands.

"I sort of hang onto the idea of 'Think globally, Act locally,'" said Craig Mittleman. "My culture is one of getting things done."

(Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Jackie frank)

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Comments (4)
Mal213369 wrote:
I first want to express my deepest sympathy to all of the parents who have lost their children in this senseless tragedy as well as to to all of the families and parents who lost their young adults who were Heros in helping to protect the children. Also for all of the medical teams and police who were there as quickly as possible to help save as many as they could. I am a Canadian who strongly believes that all of the assauis weapons should be banned immediately so this type of situation may not happen again. Also to make the laws stricter so that it is very difficult for anyone to aquire weapons of any kind.
To many lives have been taken over the years and it is time to stop it now. Besides better gun control the government should be looking at mental issues that possibly could have added to many of the mass killings over the years.
I really hope that President Obama and his staff act on this quickly which could help in the healing process for all of the families as well as the rest of the Newtown residents. I know it will be a long journey for the healing process to happen and I just want everyone to know that up here in Canada we really are thinking about your situation and wishing that if something good can come out of this massacre that is the destruction of the weapons which hopefully helps to end this kind of thing in the future.
Our Prayers are with you.
Sincerely,
Mal Mac Bride

Dec 18, 2012 2:09am EST  --  Report as abuse
txguy2112 wrote:
Someone sent this to me and it seems appropriate
”Gun control is like trying to reduce drunk driving by making it tougher for sober people to own cars.”

One of the biggest issues with banning “assault weapons” is the abiguity of the term. Any weapon from a stick to a nuclear weapon that I use to assault someone with is an assault weapon and the weapons usually designated as assault rifles have full automatic capability and are already illegal.

Dec 18, 2012 7:01am EST  --  Report as abuse
ccharles wrote:
We have people already trained and in our system…. they are called police. Put a cop at every school… not rent a cop, or school security, but a real cop. If a cop was standing at the door the boy went in, would he had made it in? If the boy knew he had to go through a cop to get inside, would he had went to the school?

Now that we find out that the mother had nothing to do with the school.. why did the boy go to the school? They are not really giving any idea why this happened.

Dec 18, 2012 7:43am EST  --  Report as abuse
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